Enterprise security and systems management were a major focus on the second day of the Intel developer Forum in San Jose as the company previewed PC technology for 2003/4.
During his keynote, Louis Burns, general manager at Intel's desktop platforms group, discussed how Intel would offer simpler IT management for users this year and 2004.
First, he said, by using Intel's hyper-threading technology within the next forthcoming "Prescott" Pentium processor , "multi-tasking can run very effectively". Hyper-threading would allow an IT administrator to run system maintenance on end-user PCs in the background, without affecting the performance of the applications the end users were running.
Intel also introduced its Granite Peak initiative, aimed at simplifying systems management, by freezing PC configurations for 18 months.
"Granite Peak is targeting one of the biggest issues IT faces today," Burns said, adding that IT departments had asked the industry to reduce the number of PC configurations they needed to manage.
"On Intel-based systems with Intel-based chipsets, Granite Peak will guarantee no changes [to device drivers] for six quarters."
Burns said Intel would also provide a single set of device drivers for notebook and desktop PCs, again to the reduce complexity of managing IT installations.
Intel showed its concept PC designs for 2003 and 2004. Both featured Intel's trusted computing platform, based on a crypto-processor which uses RSA's 2048 encryption key to secure the PC. The idea behind the trusted computing platform is to ensure the PC starts up in a secure and stable state.
In Intel's design, a device known as the trusted platform module (TPM) could be configured to encrypt information on the PC's configuration as soon as the PC is powered up. This information could be checked using system administration tools over a network to verify that the PCs configuration had not been corrupted in any way.
For the checks to work effectively, Intel is counting on operating system support, such as the Palladium initiative from Microsoft. With such support from the operating system, Intel said a system administrator would be able to check if an end-user was connecting unauthorised devices to their PCs, such as a portable hard disk, to prevent confidential data from being copied.