Intel will ship quad-core processors in November.

Thirteen vendors have already announced plans to sell quad-core-based PCs for the high-end enthusiast market, including Dell, Gateway, Velocity and Voodoo, Intel chief exec Paul Otellini said yesterday at the Intel Developer Forum trade show.

Adding extra cores to a chip allows the PC to split up heavy workloads. In a demo, Otellini showed "Alan Wake," a planned video game from Remedy that devotes an entire CPU core to the physics simulation of action scenes like explosions and tornadoes. The new quad-core gaming chip will deliver a 70-percent performance boost compared to Intel's own current dual-core gaming processor, the company said.

Intel will follow that "Core 2 Extreme" chip with the "Core 2 Quad," a four-core chip for mainstream desktops that will ship in the first quarter of 2007, he said. On the server side, Intel will call its new quad-core chip the Xeon 5300, and follow its November launch with a more efficient, 50W version in the first quarter of 2007.

The launches would be a crucial boost for Intel, which has been losing market share to AMD and missing recent earnings targets, prompting Otellini to sell several corporate divisions and lay off 10,000 people in recent weeks.

In the past quarter, the company also accelerated its schedule for shipping a new generation of dual-core, 65nm-process chips, featuring the Core 2 Duo chip for notebooks and desktops and the Xeon 5100 for servers. Intel claims to have had great commercial success with the new family, shipping 5 million Core 2 Duo processors since the chips launched 60 days ago.

Still, the adoption rate for AMD's dual-core Opteron server chip has continued to grow, since many experts consider it far more power efficient in data centres. Reaching customers first with quad-core chips could help Intel to change that reputation. "Perception doesn't change overnight, but what you're seeing is Intel rebuilding itself, rebuilding its product line and laying a foundation for the future," Otellini said.