Zeke's Law #376
...Computers are smarter than management.
211... When you can't afford barely good enough.
Looking at the sleek laptops, all-in-one and small form factor PCs of today, they have changed beyond all recognition compared to the deskbound, utilitarian behemoths of even a decade ago. Much of this change is thanks to the evolution and integration of the internal components of PCs, enabled by advances in manufacturing …
A number of the benefits that have been talked about only occur if the OS and app software support it; particularly graphics acceleration and low-power modes. Using very old software (or even new software missing the correct drivers) cannot take advantage of these features.
On the other hand, if you compare the same kind of software now with that of 10 years ago, the newer software requires a LOT more of the silicon to even do the same things as the old one did. Compare Office 97 and Office 2007 for example, or Windows 2k and Vista. How much more processing Word needs now, just to show letters on the screen when typed from the keyboard! Or webpages that take forever to render because the page source is the size of war and piece, with 2000 separately loaded parts and several FLASH objects.
The software companies seem to think that the improvement in silicon is not to allow a more responsive system, but to mean that clicking the menu should use 1Gflop of processing for some wacky animation, or that optimisation of their software is not required because people can just buy yet faster systems.
It is a race, and I'm not sure that the hardware is winning compared to the software.
The advantage vPro has is that it's free to use (using Intel's provided software). However, these "business class" machines are usually more expensive and less powerful (cheaper CPU, less RAM) than a common "consumer" PC. The cost difference may be offset by support requirements, however, things such as remote patch installation and remote KVM can be accomplished by having a proper WSUS setup and a VNC-style system in place. Granted, you don't get boot-screen KVM capability, but it's fairly rare (in my experience) that the OS won't boot at all. Usually it's just the garden-variety user-environment virus (you don't give end users admin privs I hope!) that can be wiped by booting into safe mode or (hopefully) caught by your Enterprise AV/Malware program.
In all, I think end-users would be more satisfied with a more-powerful machine with proper setup and config than a vPro-enhanced system. The IT staff would appreciate it as well, as they don't have to field calls of "my computer is running slow" near as much, and would potentially lengthen the computer refresh cycle by a good 6-12mo.
A multi-processor machine with all inclusive chips, each running its own program/window, now that's a laptop.
Done with a program, window closes, chip stops using energy.
Accept for storage access, theoretically, nothing should be slower than the minimum value of the processor use.
Please note, I am not proposing that a processor can't run more than one program, only that, functional dependency should be the rule.
Management is not going to get much better as long as Intel insists upon artificially disabling features in their chipsets and processors. Intel persues a market-segmentation strategy, which makes it impossible to procure systems that implement the silicon-aided managment and security features. I have been sifting through the Intel product database for weeks, trying to figure out how to deploy systems based upon Intel Trusted Execution Technology (TXT) as well as error-correcting RAM, only to find that this is only supported in a handful of their highest-end server platforms. This nonsense is in stark contrast to AMD, who support ECC and and Secure Virtual Machine (SVM) on every chip they sell. (Some vendors do not support SVM in the BIOS, but many do so.) Intel thinks that we want McAfee anti-virus as part of vPro. Ha. I'd settle for ECC and TXT across all product lines.
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