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I recently read this post over on Skeptics which concludes that many consumer computers contain components which can access the internet and perform operations while the computer is powered off. The post states that there is limited utility from these services for many consumers:

It is unclear to me what potential benefits there could be to this system in ordinary consumer computers, not managed by an IT department, but per the Wikipedia page quoted above (and other sources I've seen) this technology is included in consumer devices: "Currently, AMT is available in desktops, servers, ultrabooks, tablets, and laptops with Intel Core vPro processor family, including Intel Core i3, i5, i7".

What benefit, if any, do typical consumers (not managed by an IT department) get from lights out management? (i.e. why does Intel bother engineering this into their chips?)

  • Just to be clear, AMT is a part of the chipset (motherboard), not the actual processor. Will a consumer ever use it? Probably not. If your comp breaks and someone has to fix it, can it potentially help diagnose something? Maybe. All the tech is just mass produced and one more feature means they can charge more. – Narzard Jun 7 '16 at 19:53
  • The purpose is control of any device at any time by the ones that have the authority to do so. That's why seagate and intel are doing what they're doing. – Overmind Jun 28 '16 at 6:02
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Actually Intel does a good job of explaining the benefits of AMT and, by inference, you can see how the likes of Lenovo, Dell, HP, Asus, etc. can leverage off AMT to provide warranty support to consumers. In particular, this benefit stands out:

With out-of-band management capabilities, including Keyboard-Video-Mouse (KVM) Remote Control, Intel AMT allows IT to remotely remediate and recover systems after OS failures.

http://www.intel.com/content/www/us/en/architecture-and-technology/intel-active-management-technology.html

Obviously much of what AMT is used for in the corporate world doesn't apply to a consumer, but that one benefit above could save the likes of Lenovo, Dell, HP, Asus, etc. millions of $ in consumer support costs.

Last time my father "killed" his PC Lenovo had to send a technician out to troubleshoot and solve the problem. Imagine, that could've all been done remotely.

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I have doubts that there are many consumer computers in the world which can use Intel AMT as described in the article you referred to. Normally a typical consumer does not have any access to Intel AMT functions because they are not supported in a typical consumer hardware configuration. To be able to use Intel AMT together with KVM functionalities you need a certain combination:

  • a mainboard chipset which supports Intel AMT
  • and a CPU which support Intel vPro.

Only few consumers will have this combination at home or in their home office. Mostly perhaps those consumers who get a computer from their company to use at home.

From the perspective of a customer I think that the main benefit of using Intel AMT is that I could switch on every Intel AMT/vPro computer I own when I am connected to its network (e.g. by VPN or port forwarding). This 'power on' is not a simple Wake on LAN (WoL) signal which would function only within a cabled LAN. It's a real 'power on', like I had pressed the physical 'ON' button of my laptop which could be completely powered off but whose AMT module would be nevertheless connected to the internet by WiFi/wireless LAN.

Of course, beside a simple 'power on' there are other advantages using Intel AMT. I could change the bios settings, or I could reset the computer when a blue screen occurs. But those scenarios won't happen very often.

So, if a consumer won't use his computer from remote, I see no benefits for him having a Intel AMT/vPro enabled computer. But for me it's a useful feature to access my (e. g. switched off) physical hardware at home.

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