Chipmakers are pressing more functionality into microprocessor technology. In the next two years, better performance, systems-management capabilities, virtualization, security, and features to help track computer assets will be built directly into the silicon.
Intel plans to embed its LaGrande security technology in its processors in 2006, bringing the capabilities to market in conjunction with Microsoft's planned Longhorn release of Windows. LaGrande will protect execution and memory environments and encrypt keystrokes and mouse clicks. Advanced Micro Devices Inc. plans a similar technology, code-named Presidio, around the same time.
Beginning with its Itanium processor line next year and Xeon and Pentium in 2006, Intel will add capabilities, code-named Vanderpool, that will let IT departments create multiple, isolated execution environments in a single machine. AMD has its virtualization technology, code-named Pacifica, scheduled for release in 2006.
Intel also plans to add Active Management Technology to its processors as part of its "embedded IT" initiative. The technology will allow for such things as asset tracking, patching, and software updates. Going forward, Intel plans to embed technologies such as data mining, networking processing, and speech recognition, too.
What's in the works:
AMD Security, virtualization, and power-management technology
IBM Cryptography, floating point capability for faster graphics processing
Intel Security, hardware-assisted virtualization, and Active Management
Technology for asset tracking, patching, and software updates
Sun Microsystems Cryptography, data transmission and receipt, ability
to run 32 computing jobs at once, network packet processing
The embedded management functions aren't intended to replace specialized, third-party software such as security and virtualization. "The software companies do not go away. These advancements provide much stronger building blocks for more robust solutions," says Frank Spindler, VP of Intel's corporate technology group.