ATMs, kiosks and digital signage are types of embedded devices, a computer system designed to do one or more dedicated functions, with or without user interaction. Usually these devices are located in public areas with restricted network infrastructure and and have multiple locations (e.g. shopping malls, gas stations, libraries, etc.). For this type of machine, remote diagnosis and repair has a tremendous value, so that the administrator can avoid unnecessary visits to reboot a machine or restore an operating system image. You can even remotely diagnose hardware problems, such as hard disk failure and then send the technician with the correct spare part for replacement.
The latest Intel® vPro™ release (i.e. with ME firmware 7.1), brings some improvements and capabilities to address this market segment:
- Linux support: Until now, only Microsoft Windows was officially supported on Intel® vPro™ machines, but now, Intel is productizing the Intel SCS and ME drivers; thus, tools will be launched for the Linux OS also. They will not be at the same maturity level that you can find in the Windows world, but hopefully enough to address the embedded market - where Linux adoption is higher than the regular PC market;
- Wireless support on desktop motherboards: Yes, vPro now supports wireless on the desktop motherboard. Of course, it is not mandatory, but some motherboards may support it, such as DQ67EP and, in this case, you must use an Intel® Centrino® Advanced-N 6205 wireless NIC to be compliant with ME 7.1;
- Simplified configuration tool: Host Based Configuration (HBC) method, is by far the simplest method for vPro configuration, however the main adoption barrier of this method for embedded devices relies on fact that User Consent (aka. Client Control Mode) is not a viable option. To overcome this limitation, the ME 7.1 firmware kit used by OEM to assemble the motherboard/machine, now comes with a tool capable of provisioning the machine while unattended and place the machine in administrative control mode.
I would appreciate to hear from you if you have any initiative to adopt Intel® vPro™ and what kind of usage are you thinking to adopt. Thanks in advance for feedback.