Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) has launched a motherboard with four cores today in an effort to keep pace with the release of quad-core chips by rival Intel.

Targeting what it calls ‘power users’, AMD's Quad FX Platform includes two dual-core Athlon 64 FX-70 series chips and uses Nvidia's 680a chipset.

The launch highlights a debate in the industry about the definition of quad-core processors. Intel has claimed it won the quad-core race on earlier this month by packaging two dual-core chips together in the Xeon 5300 for servers and Core 2 Extreme QX6700 for gamers.

But AMD is calling its Quad FX Platform a "4x4," and said it won't release a true "quad-core" processor until 2007, when it combines four cores on a single piece of silicon called "Barcelona." Analysts say they won't be able to judge the winner of the debate until they can test comparable products.

In the meantime, one thing is certain: a PC with four computing cores can run a lot of applications at once. PC vendors who use the Quad FX will attract more than just hard-core gamers, said Ian McNaughton, product manager for Athlon 64 FX products.

A desktop with four computing cores can be a workstation for "megataskers," those users who watch high-definition video while burning a DVD, downloading a BitTorrent file, and chatting on a TeamSpeak connection, even as their PC runs antivirus software, Skype and instant messaging applications in the background.

"The PC usage model has changed," he said. "People are doing four, five, six things at the same time."