Introducing Intel’s Long-Term Retention Lab

At Intel’s Long-Term Retention Lab, researchers work with generations of products to provide security and functional updates for customers.

Quality and security are essential for today’s products, technologies and services. At Intel’s Long-Term Retention Lab (LTR Lab), researchers drive continuous improvement, prevention of issues and closed-loop learning to address the production of updates, manageability and support.

global study by Ponemon Institute found that 73% of IT decision-makers are more likely to purchase technologies and services from companies that proactively find, mitigate and communicate security vulnerabilities. Intel is doing just that. Through ongoing internal research and collaboration with external researchers (including a bug bounty program and academic grants), Intel ensures high-quality customer experiences and invests heavily in building quality and security into its systems from the start.

Working together with original equipment manufacturers, operating systems vendors, cloud service providers, independent firmware vendors and system integrators, Intel regularly releases Intel platform updates (IPUs) to securely deliver product innovations. Through a coordinated vulnerability handling process that incorporates feedback from customers, all parties work together to issue updates for supported products and services. Transparency about existing vulnerabilities and available mitigations is crucial to providing valuable security assurance.

Beyond broad industry collaboration to release IPUs, Intel’s LTR Lab is another capability that supports security assurance and accelerates the release of security and quality updates on supported products.

Brief History

The LTR Lab is a state-of-the-art archival lab for internal validation and product updates across Intel’s massive portfolio of platforms. The need for the lab became apparent a couple years ago when engineers had trouble locating specific older platform configurations on which to troubleshoot. Ultimately, the team turned to eBay as a solution.

Intel realized a need to preserve platforms and their respective design collateral and create a system for teams to track and identify what’s being kept in various locations. By storing products and information about configurations, Intel scaled its engineers’ ability to analyze security and functional issues on supported products more efficiently, while better enabling proactive research for the continuous improvement of products.

When the lab first started, the main goal was to create a centralized location for storing hardware; this later expanded to retaining thousands of live platforms along with design, software and documentation collateral. Today, more than 2,800 platforms are available in the lab, with some of the oldest from 2012.

LTR Lab Operations

Retaining a decade’s worth of collateral and building an expansive asset inventory has improved Intel’s ability to address in-field issues. Intel engineers have near-instant access to the technology in the lab to troubleshoot security or functional issues, even on older supported platforms that are not the latest on the market. Thanks to the LTR Lab’s efficient 24/7 support staff and the centralized nature of all collateral, engineers have access to what they need in minutes for a true, virtual lab experience even amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Teams can easily debug, test and validate updates for supported products.The products stored at the LTR Lab range from high-end servers for high performance computing and cloud service providers, to desktops and laptops used by businesses and consumers, to embedded products used by the Internet of Things ecosystem. Among these products and activities, one of the primary areas of focus is power and performance degradation and testing, which is a key consideration for Intel and its customers.

LTR as a Solution

Teams can respond to reported vulnerabilities and develop IPUs quicker for supported products because they have around-the-clock global access to platforms and design collateral. Records provide extensive documentation, allowing Intel researchers to understand the work done to a platform by the original engineers. By retaining all this information in one location, Intel will enable future staff to easily find and use what they need within hours.

Overall, having a streamlined process for Intel researchers to obtain, test and debug platforms creates a stronger assurance posture, enhancing the company’s capability to provide security and functional updates for supported products. The LTR Lab is an important component in Intel’s resilient support lifecycle. By providing an effective beginning to end-of-life security support, Intel supplies customers with products that empower them to be successful.

Future Plans

In 2022, the LTR Lab capacity will expand to 6,000 platforms. With so many platforms in a centralized location, Intel can design, test and deliver even more updates for supported products to customers. As the threat landscape evolves, it is critical that technology companies deliver solutions to protect customers against emerging attacks. With the LTR Lab, Intel is prepared to lead the industry forward with revolutionary post-launch platform updates and support.