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vPro/AMT functionality on devices with no Ethernet port

ICIT
New Contributor I
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Many modern business oriented laptops and tablet type devices have done away with built-in Ethernet ports. Many of these devices also support vPro. For example Dell's Latitude 7420 or Latitude 7320 Detachable. The solution for wired ethernet, along with additional expansion (such as multiple displays), on these devices is typically a USB-C dock. There are no USB-C docks however that support vPro functionality. 

 

Solved: How to design a Dock to support vPro ? - Intel Communities

Unable to get a Dell Precision 5510 to utilize Intel AMT (Advanced Management Technology) on the LAN - Intel Communities

 

This presents some problems for users/organizations wanting to utilize the full capabilities of vPro remote management, namely full remote control in S5 power state and zero touch provisioning. While vPro wireless support is great, there are some limitations to it.

 

It seems a great solution would be to have vPro enabled USB-C docks. I'm wondering if the fact that none exist is simply due to no manufacturer creating one yet, or is there more to it? Could such a device even be created that could adhere to the guidelines and certification process put forth by Intel?

 

 

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JoseH_Intel
Moderator
1,845 Views

Hello ICIT,


Thank you for joining the community


There is a method to configure a wireless (laptop) device into Admin Control Mode so it will be fully managed. You want to check this article:

https://www.intel.com/content/www/us/en/support/articles/000058257/software/manageability-products.html


About the vPro capable docking stations, there is supposed to be 1 available in the market for the Lenovo Thunderbolt 4 Dock.


Regards


Jose A.

Intel Customer Support Technician


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ICIT
New Contributor I
1,828 Views

Yes, it appears that this ThinkPad Universal Thunderbolt 4 Dock ($340, yikes) has vPro/AMT Pass through support on select vPro PCs

https://smartfind.lenovo.com/accessories/#/products/40B00135US

 

Still digging but I assume that "select vPro PCs" means devices with a built-in RJ45 connector, i.e. LOM. For example a ThinkPad T14 Gen 3. But there are many vPro PCs that don't have an RJ45 port and therefore no LOM. Is it technically feasible to build a USB-C dock that would have its own Ethernet controller that could bring wired vPro/AMT support to these devices?

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JoseH_Intel
Moderator
1,822 Views

Hello ICIT,


The requirements for a system to be vPro capable are CPU, chipset, and an Intel NIC. What you propose seems feasible but there is probably more at an engineering level that we are not really aware of. Probably that is one of the reasons why the vPro docks are almost nonexistent. From the older threads, there is an Intel employee who shared an email to share thoughts about this same concern. You can try to get in touch. Probably a long shot but worth to try.


Regards


Jose A.

Intel Customer Support Technician


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ICIT
New Contributor I
1,818 Views

Ok, I'll see what I can find on the older threads. 

I suspect one reason LOM and RJ45 ports have been yanked from so many modern portables is due just to the relatively large form factor of the port. Just about every connector type has either transformed over the last 20 years to be smaller or been replaced altogether with a more compact alternative. For some reason Ethernet connectors have been stuck in the 80's though. It's probably time for Ethernet connectors to shrink to allow easier integration with today's smaller devices.

 

It looks like there is someone thinking along these lines

Mini RJ45 Connectors | 70% Smaller | Industrial | CAT 5 & 6 | (harting.com)

but I've never seen or even heard of any mainstream devices utilizing this type of connector at this point.

 

While wireless is great, in a managed corporate environment wired network connections have so many advantages. Especially when combined with vPro capabilities. I just spent some time brushing up on the last couple generations of Lenovo, Dell and HP business portable PCs and of the couple dozen models between them all, only a few have wired Ethernet.

 

Maybe Intel should consider pushing for a standardized mini Ethernet connector type which, IMO, in turn would drive vPro adoption.

 

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n_scott_pearson
Super User
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Ok, my understanding is that, regardless of whether talking about LAN or WLAN, connection to the mobo's SMBus is necessary for the vPro and wake functionality to work. This limits you to LOM and both PCIe M.2 and standard PCIe connectors. AFAIK, the SMBus is NOT available downstream, regardless of whether we're talking about USB or TBT connections. Is there something that I am missing?

...S

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