Intel unveiled its latest Haifa innovation Tuesday as the world's largest chip maker with the launch of its first quad-core microprocessor.
"Today's announcement ushers in another new era in computing," said Intel President and CEO Paul Otellini. "The capabilities of quad-core microprocessors will bring new possibilities for science, entertainment and business."
Whereas the dual-core technology launched last year uses two microprocessors to perform tasks at the same time, quad-core doubles the equation, thus further increasing computer processing speeds and energy savings. In the company's words, the technology delivers four "computing brains" inside a single microprocessor enabling it to multi-task more effectively.
The new chips add to the growing portfolio of groundbreaking technologies developed at Intel's Haifa research & development center, which was responsible for the initial introduction of the multi-core microprocessor concept.
While Intel previously said the technology has been responsible for giving it the edge over its rivals in most market segments, particularly the high end gaming market where it was lagging before, Cody Acree, an analyst at Stifel Nicolaus, downplayed the significance of the breakthrough for the average user.
"The average consumer is typically doing one thing at a time but when you apply it to business servers, where they need to run multiple sessions of different applications, then those multiple cores really become significant," Acree said. "It will probably come as we get more and more software built to take care of multi-coreâ€¦ and it will be things that really happen behind the scenes that will benefit consumers but not necessarily speed up performance such as running virus or back-up programs when you open up windows or the way you run the Internet."
Aiming at the high-end market initially, the launch sees the introduction of the Quad-Core Xeon 5300 and Intel Core 2 Extreme quad-core processor families for general purpose servers and workstations, digital media creation, the high-end gaming and other market segments. The company said the Xeon 5300 series servers deliver up to 50 percent faster performance within the same thermal envelope and at the same cost as the previous generation Dual-Core Intel Xeon processor 5100 series it launched less than five months ago.
Intel released four Xeon processors and said it would introduce another two lower voltage versions and a processor designed for single socket workstations and servers in the first quarter of 2007.
Of its second series launch, Intel said the Core 2 Extreme quad-core processor QX6700 is up to 80% faster than its current Intel Core 2 Extreme Processor X6800, further boosting its compatibility for multimedia or gaming applications. The company plans to offer a mainstream quad-core processor starting in the first quarter of next year under the brand name Intel Core 2 Quad processor.
Meanwhile, continuing its investment in Haifa, Intel said last month it was opening a new multi-core technology lab in Haifa to allow independent software vendors from the digital health, enterprise, telecommunications and other industries to test their applications on Intel multi-core architectures.
It is also scheduled to lay the cornerstone of a new building to house the Haifa R&D center next week, which is expected to be completed in 2008 and employ some 1,100 workers.
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