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Modern Hardware for Mobile Workers

Darren Baker
April 02, 2020

As one of the global system integrators that provides workplace modernization for enterprise customers, we help organizations update their work environments, modernize applications, migrate systems to cloud for global availability and replace user endpoints with the latest OS updates and hardware. Mobility and the ability to work from anywhere was always one of our core strengths and we have helped thousands of customers, large and small, adopt to a new way of working. Typically we will see an organization replace 30% to 35% of their older PC equipment. Lately, we have been seeing a lot of older systems not retired as they typically are, instead being redeployed into continued service.

When new systems are released, we see most hardware manufacturers will show a percentage performance increase over their previous models. What we would rather see is the performance benchmarks of the systems that are currently being used, compared to newer more modern systems running the latest Intel® Core™ vPro® processors.

Understanding the Identification of hardware based on CPU

If you are not familiar with the Intel CPU labeling, there is a detailed explanation of Intel processor identification on the Intel website, and an explanation on the meaning of the Processor numbers for the Intel® Core™ processors describing the alphanumeric scheme based on the generation and product line following the brand.

Hardware performance current versus new

To do some testing, we gathered several types of hardware similar to what we see in use at our customers, new and old. We used PCMARK 10 benchmarking software to test and gather the performance scores of the devices. Since we typically see that customers are trying to get the maximum life from their devices, we set 4th Generation as the Baseline, since these machines were majorly deployed in the Windows 7 era, in order to show the performance increase from 6th to  8th and 10th generation.

A screenshot of a cell phone

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Figure 1. Performance ranking of current and new hardware.

Using the 4th generation as the baseline, you can see that newer systems offer a performance increase of 45% to 60%+ over the systems that are reaching the end of their lifecycle. If you have 6th generation devices in your organization, replacing those devices can offer a 20% to 40% performance increase. This should give you something to think about, as you are modernizing your workforce for mobility.

A screenshot of a cell phone

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Figure 2. Productivity benchmark scores

Looking deeper into how the devices scored, you can see that most of the standard operations, App start, Document Load, Document save have significant reductions in time. While a few seconds may not seem like a lot, keep in mind that every document, spreadsheet or application performs hundreds or thousands of operations per hour. Reducing the time of those operations increases the productivity of the user allowing business-critical decisions to be made faster.

There is a study by Prowess Consulting on the advantages of upgrading your PC fleet to systems powered by 8th Generation Intel® Core™ vPro® processors.

The Next Advancement – Athena

With the release of 10th generation Intel business class devices this year, we will see the next advancement in mobile systems with Intel Athena specification based devices.

Figure 3. Specification Badge

Project Athena specifications are comprised of more than 23 metrics designed to help hardware manufacturers create the next generation of laptops. As new devices come to market, they will be identified with a badge that says, “Engineered for Mobile Performance”.

Figure 4. Athena specification presentation to OEM’s

Key drivers for Intel’s Athena specification include:

  • Ready to go before you are: Project Athena laptops will have Modern Connected Standby or Lucid Sleep, as well as offer either fingerprint scanning or face recognition biometric login. These laptops must wake from sleep in less than one second.
  • Performance & responsiveness: Project Athena Laptops will have an Intel Core i5 or Core i7 processor with more than 8GB DRAM, and at least 256GB SSD storage space, with Intel Optane memory as an option.
  • Adaptive intelligence: Laptops with the Athena specification will support Far Field voice service for voice commands. As AI in the Workplace becomes more prevalent, these machines will also support OpenVINO AI on PC WinML.
  • Worry-free battery life: Laptops must provide 16+ hours of battery life for local video playback or 9 or more hours for real-world use. Get back to work with fast charging, the ability to provide 4 hours of battery life after less than 30 minutes of charging.
  • Always fast, reliably connected: For connectivity, laptops will support Thunderbolt 3 and WiFi 6 Gig+ – and offer Gigabit LTE as an option.
  • Form factor & interaction: Style and mobile usability is important as these devices will come in an ultra slim 2-in-1 or clamshell for factor with a 12- to 15-inch touch display with 1080p or better resolution and 3-side narrow bezel. Athena will also have a backlit keyboard, precision touchpad and pen support.

As these devices come into the market, you can be sure we will help our clients choose the right devices with an increase focus on mobility, security, manageability and AI. Does this performance information, and features on new laptops change your view on how you perceive mobile device usage or help you make decisions for your mobile fleet? I personally recognized a substantial performance improvement when I moved to the Surface Pro 7 with the Intel 10th Generation processor. Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

About the author

Partner Manager | USA
Darren is a strategic leader with years of executive management and business strategy experience in System Integrator Partner Management. Darren has a strong interest and understanding of current and emerging technologies.


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