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Intel brings Broadwell to businesses with 5th-gen Core chips with vPro

But what will it all mean for Skylake?

Intel is pressing onward with its line of fifth-generation Core processors, with the general availability this week of versions of the chips tailored for enterprise customers.

The chipmaker launched its "Broadwell-U" line of Core chips earlier this month with a set of 14-nanometer CPUs aimed at mainstream desktops and laptops. Those chips were successors to the earlier "Broadwell-Y" parts, which made it to market under the Core M brand.

With the launch of the next phase of its Broadwell rollout on Thursday, Chipzilla has released versions of both the Core and Core M processors that include its vPro package of management and security features.

Intel says the new chips deliver similar improvements in performance and power consumption as the earlier Broadwell units, while providing a feature package that's attractive to businesses.

"Businesses can choose from a variety of never-before-seen PC designs across 2 in 1s, Ultrabooks, ultrathin clamshells and mini PCs that offer up to twice the battery life and more than twice the performance, enabling form factors that are up to three times thinner and 50 percent lighter than a laptop PC from just four years ago," the company said in a press release.

The vPro features of the new chips include the hardware-enhanced encryption for Intel solid-state storage devices, hardware support for two-factor authentication, and remote management capabilities that are accessible even when the device's operating system is down or the device is powered off.

Even more than vPro, however, Intel is touting the new wireless technologies available in the new chips, including support for Intel Wireless Docking and Intel Pro Wireless Display (WiDi). The latter includes wireless channel management and the ability to update wireless client adapters remotely.

"With new devices based on 5th generation Intel Core vPro processors, we aim to transform the user experience by helping them compute from virtually anywhere without the clutter and burden of wires," said Intel Business Client Platforms veep Tom Garrison.

Intel says 12 PC makers have already launched devices based on fifth-generation Core chips with vPro, including Ultrabooks, ultrathin clamshells, mini-PCs, and two-in-one devices, with more to come later in the year.

What's not entirely clear, however, is how the delayed rollout of the Broadwell line will impact Skylake, Chipzilla's upcoming processor refresh. Like Broadwell, these sixth-generation Core chips will be based on a 14nm process and they are expected to launch at some point during 2015.

Some analysts had speculated that Intel would delay Skylake to give Broadwell some room to breathe, but during the chipmaker's most recent earnings conference call, CEO Brian Krzanich indicated this wouldn't be the case, saying the first Skylake chips would arrive on schedule in the second half of this year.

What seems likely now is that Broadwell chips will mainly target mobile devices and all-in-ones, rather than tower desktops. Most manufacturers will probably skip Broadwell for their high-performance tower machines and go straight to Skylake, which is expected to ship in configurations with thermal design points (TDPs) as high as 95 watts. ®

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