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Intel quad-core chips arriving in 2006

Company pushes up its scheduled launch for server and desktop chips with four processing engines.

Intel quad-core server and desktop processors will arrive this year instead of next, Chief Executive Paul Otellini said Wednesday, firing a new competitive volley against rival Advanced Micro Devices.

"We notified customers we're pulling in both the desktop and server (launch) of the first quad-core processors into the fourth quarter of this year from the first half of 2007," Otellini said. Intel's quad-core Xeon server processor is code-named Clovertown, and its desktop processor Kentsfield.

Intel quad-cores

Intel has been bruised financially in recent quarters, but is fighting to reverse market share losses. Both Intel and AMD now sell dual-core chips--those with two processing engines on a single slice of silicon--and are racing to bring multicore successors to market.

Chips with more cores can juggle multiple jobs simultaneously than single-core models. However, while server software typically is able to use multiple cores, most desktop computer software hasn't been adapted for the designs.

Intel's quad-core chips actually are packages consisting of two dual-core chips, but each package plugs into a single processor socket. AMD, whose quad-core chips are due in mid-2007, uses a more refined design with all the cores on a single slice of silicon.

Intel has advanced several schedules recently. Its "Woodcrest" Xeon chip for dual-processor servers went on sale in the second quarter instead of the fourth, and its "Tulsa" Xeon for four-processor servers also is arriving sooner. "We pulled in the Tulsa processor launch by two quarters to the third quarter and have begun shipping that product for revenue," Otellini said.