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August 24, 2005

Intel details new business platform, Cisco partnership

Intel Corp yesterday detailed new virtualization and management features for its first dual-core enterprise chip bundle, or Professional Business Platform, due out late in the second quarter of 2006.

By CBR Staff Writer

The chipmaker also announced a new partnership with Cisco Systems Inc to jointly develop ways to exploit security capabilities of the new platform, during the Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco.

At the heart of the platform would be Intel’s dual-core Presler processor, which would not be built on Intel’s newly announced, low-powered microarchitecture. The first desktop chip built on the new architecture, dubbed Conroe, would be available later in the year, but not in time for the chipmaker’s Stable Image Platform program.

SIPP is a guaranteed timeline of mainstream product releases designed to give IT managers one quarter for qualification, beginning June 1 every year, then four quarters for buying before new technologies are bundled into mainstream offerings.

However, Conroe would be plug-compatible with Presler. Curiously, Conroe has not yet been named as the processor for the 2007 Professional Business Platform.

In addition to being the first dual-core volume enterprise bundle, the platform would include embedded virtualization technology, or VT, as well as a new version of Intel’s embedded active management technology, or AMT.

VT would enable a desktop virtual appliance that would run independent of the operating system. The virtual appliance would be almost invisible and run in the background in a sealed, fixed-function embedded environment, said Gregory Bryant, general manager of Intel digital office platform division.

Initial applications built to exploit VT would be around security, Bryant said. Future versions of VT would enable two virtual appliances that may run applications such as VoIP or search, Bryant said.

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AMT, which Intel introduced in late May when it launched its Professional Business Platform as the first bundle of high-volume enterprise chips under the chipmaker’s new platform strategy, has gained a couple of new features for the new platform.

AMT version 2 would be able to reach into more system resources by being integrated into Presler’s chipset, which is codenamed Broadwater. Previously, AMT was in the network controller.

In keeping with Intel’s security and management focus for its new platform, AMT would enable outbreak containment, agent presence detection and IT policy enforcement, Bryant said.

The first application to exploit the new AMT and VT will be from Lenovo Group Ltd, called Antidote, which chief executive Stephen Ward announced and demonstrated a prototype of earlier in the week during the opening IDF keynote.

Antidote, which is expected to ship during the next six months, automatically recognizes a virus, isolates the infected PC from the rest of the network and alerts the IT department, which can then remotely patch the breach.

This can be done if the PC is not turned on or has a corrupted OS and no reboot is necessary — all existing features of AMT.

While EDS, Siemens, Atos Origin and Cap Gemini already have signed on for Intel’s AMT initiative, Cisco Systems Inc is now also part of the initiative is working with Intel on a new AMT-enabled product, GM of Intel digital enterprise group Pat Gelsinger announced yesterday, during his IDF keynote.

Jayshree Ullal, a Cisco senior data center, switching and security VP, joined Gelsinger on stage to demonstrate how Cisco is using AMT with hardware and software to regulate networks through security agents.

A Cisco trust agent, which has various posture plug-ins, enables security policies to be set up to permit, deny or quarantine a machine that is attempting to access a network.

Ullal said Cisco would release a new product that uses AMT by the end of the year.

Intel’s Bryant also said that the chipmaker is considering branding its upcoming business platform, but a decision has not yet been made.

Also, earlier in the week, Intel chief Paul Otellini announced VT and AMT technology would be implemented throughout Intel’s platform groups next year.

The first version of VT for desktops would launch by the end of this year, and in the first half of 2006 would be available for notebooks and servers, Bryant said.

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