Intel desktop boost reflects continued fat-client demand

Rise of mobile devices increases need for encryption

Despite the rise of cloud computing and the thin client, Intel continues to place its bets on a continued growth in demand for desktop power as well as power at the server.

At the Australian-NZ presentation of Intel's latest vPro processors in Sydney this week enterprise sales manager Andrew MacLean cited desktop virtualisation as one justification for the continued need.

The power of the new vPro chips can be selectively throttled back; changing the frequency of the processor, the number of cores used and the balance between graphics processing and ordinary data processing to meet need and save energy.

"The savings are real here," MacLean says; "we can be talking up to hundreds of kilowatt hours per user per year."

The second-generation Intel Core vPro i5 processor can speed up business applications by 60 percent, multitasking by 100 percent and data encryption by 300 percent over the original vPro processors, Intel claims.

Increased need for encryption is an effect of the growing importance of mobile use. More people carrying laptops around with sensitive data makes encryption, both in storage and in transmission necessary in case of interception or theft.

It is also possible to make laptops using the new processors inoperable -- "brick" them - with a remote command if they have been lost or stolen.

Intel sees the continuing need for increasing desktop and laptop power serving already established trends to run several virtual machines on the same hardware, to keep work and personal data and applications in separate virtual "containers" or to stream an entire machine image, including the operating system, temporarily from a server.

The death of the desktop and full-function laptop is a recurring theme, enterprise marketing manager Daniel Anderson told Computerworld at the launch. Over the years, thin clients, cloud computing and even the netbook have been predicted to be the killers; "but it's never happened."

Storage and processing of video and other rich-media files also contribute to the need for desktop and laptop power, said Intel and independent analyst commentators at the Australia/NZ launch.

Intel continues, however, to cater for the server market -- including mission-critical applications and cloud datacentres - with two new Xeon models, the E3 and E7, promising as much as 40% improvement on previous-generation Xeon chips.

* Bell travelled to Sydney as a guest of Intel.

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