IBM has produced a new line of servers using Intel quad-core Xeon processors.

The four rack servers and one blade server will use the Xeon 5300 and range in price from $2,400 to just over $3,000.

A quad-core processor has four independent processors combined into one package, which allows the chip to perform four tasks simultaneously. IBM said its x3650 server with a quad-core processor recorded a 64 percent increase in performance compared to the same model running only a dual-core processor.

Quad-core technology also makes it easier for IT managers to introduce virtualisation into their data centres so companies can make better use of server capacity by running multiple programs - and even different operating systems - on the same physical server at the same time. IBM's quad-core System x servers support virtualisation through IBM Virtualization Manager, which lets sysadmins manage servers on any number of software platforms, including VMware, Microsoft Virtual Server and Xen.

The new x3550 and x3650 are available from next week and the x3400, x3500 and BladeCenter HS21 will be available in January.

Intel's chief rival, AMD, is expected to introduce its quad-core processors in mid-2007.