Intel has launched two quad-core processors for embedded applications, more powerful than the Woodcrest dual-core Xeon.

The E5335 and E5345 are both members of Intel's Clovertown Quad-core Xeon family, offering 8MB cache and a 1,333MHz front-side bus for high-performance embedded applications. The chips are designed for makers of telecommunications gear, network storage and medical imaging equipment.

At a time when quad-core chips are used mainly in servers, workstations or high-end gaming desktops, the powerful, 80-watt chips may seem like overkill for embedded platforms, admitted Doug Davis, vice president and general manager of Intel's embedded and communications group.

But a typical computed tomography (CT) scan image is 16GB, so users handling many images or running analytical processing can easily use the quad-core chip's full potential. And high-end embedded platforms such as the ATCA (Advanced Telecom Computing Architecture) blade typically offer a 200-watt total envelope, which is enough power to support an E5300-series chip along with chipset, memory and other peripherals, Davis said. He unveiled the chips at the Embedded Systems Conference in San Jose, California.

At the same show, Intel competitor AMD launched a different type of embedded chipset, the M690, for tasks with strong graphics and connectivity needs. The processor integrates graphics capabilities from ATI for thin clients, point of sale, gaming and single-board computers, AMD said.

Intel's new E5300-series chips will come in at the top of the company's range of embedded processors. For midrange embedded platforms with a power budget between 50 and 200 watts, such as cash machines, industrial control or physical security, Intel sells embedded versions of its mainstream chips like Core 2 Duo, Pentium and Celeron.

Intel also announced that it is developing an SOC (system-on-chip) for even lower-power, smaller-footprint embedded applications, such as print imaging and in-vehicle automotive platforms using just 15 to 75 watts. An SOC will combine the main processor with the memory control and I/O control hubs, saving physical space for device designers by reducing three chips to one.

The company has not yet set a date for releasing the SOC product, Davis said.

Intel also announced a network server called the NSC2U, using a pair of the new 5300-series processors to drive enough I/O throughput to handle jobs like security intrusion prevention, IPTV (Internet Protocol TV) and video on demand or VPN (virtual private network) gateways.

Intel is selling the 2.0GHz E5335 and the 2.33GHz E5345 for $690 per chip in quantities of 1,000. The company will launch the NSC2U IP Network Server in July.