Seeking to build on its lead over rival Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) in the race to sell quad-core processors, Intel launched three quad-core processors on Monday.
One of the new chips, the Core 2 Quad, marks Intel's first attempt to spread the new technology to a wider market than large data centres and research grids. The other two, both versions of the Quad-Core Xeon 3200, are designed for low-end, single-socket servers.
This move gives desktop users the same performance that once required a supercomputer, Intel Chief Executive Paul Otellini said, as the new processors were launched at the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) this week in Las Vegas.
Rival chipmaker AMD insists that Intel has merely glued two dual-core chips together, and that its own "Barcelona" four-core processor will perform much better when it launches later this year.
A strong impediment to the widespread adoption of quad-core chips is the scarcity of multi-threaded software than can take advantage of the four-way design. Indeed, Intel also pledged Monday that it's actively working with software developers on enabling multi-threaded applications and next-generation games.
Intel is positioning the other new chips – the Quad-Core Xeon 3200 series – based on their power efficiency for entry-level server applications such as email, web and file-and-print. Intel is selling those chips as a 2.13 GHz Quad-Core Xeon X3210 for $690 (£355) and the 2.4 GHz Quad-Core Xeon X3220 for $851 (£437), both priced per unit in lots of 1,000. The new 2.4GHz Core 2 Quad Q6600 is also selling for $851.