Dell will start shipping its first servers running quad-core Intel processors in a two-socket configuration next week.

The Quad-Core Xeon 5300 processor from Intel will be included on Dell's PowerEdge rack and blade style servers, and in Precision workstations. "We actually see, with the introduction of our new quad-core systems, that this is the beginning of the end of the four-socket marketplace over the next three or four years," said Neil Hand, vice president of worldwide enterprise marketing for Dell.

A quad-core processor is built with four processors together on the same die, and a socket is where the processor plugs in. By putting four cores in one processor, computer performance can be enhanced with only two sockets instead of four sockets. Multi-core chips allow a computer to split up heavy workloads more easily for faster performance.

Dell claims quad cores in a dual-socket server configuration can deliver 63 percent better computing performance, and 40 percent better performance per watt, than dual-core processors in four sockets. The performance can be further improved through virtualisation, Hand said.

Dell isn't the only vendors selling quad-core servers. IBM features quad-core Power processors on its System P line of servers; and HP will launch new workstations running the same Intel Xeon 5300 processor Dell is using later this month.