Intel will start selling quad-core chips on 13 November - beating arch-rival AMD.

The chip will appear in a new line of Hewlett-Packard workstations that will most likely use Intel's Xeon 5300 chip, designed to run high-end applications like seismic analysis and visualisation software.

The launch would mean that Intel beats AMD to market, providing the company with a much-needed boost after a year where the companyl has made as many headlines for its layoffs and missed earnings targets as for its technology.

AMD plans to release its own quad-core chips in the middle of 2007, and claims its monolithic design is superior to Intel's, which essentially glues two dual-cores chips together. But without hardware to test, analysts are divided on whether this will significantly affect performance.

Around the same time as AMD's quad-core chips hit the market, Intel also hopes to start shipping 45-nanometre versions of its latest microprocessors. At the moment, Intel produces the majority of its Core 2 Duo microprocessors using the larger 65nm technology, and the smallersize will improve chip performance by 20 percent, the company claimed.

Meanwhile, Intel chief executive Paul Otellini defended the company's quad-core design at last month's Intel Developer Forum, saying that customers would care more about the pure speed and performance of their computers than about how the chips inside it are packaged.

Multiple-core chips can accelerate processing tasks in desktops and servers without drawing more electricity and generating extra heat. They can also handle more than one instruction set at a time, allowing computers to multi-task more efficiently.