By Paula Rooney,

9:35 AM EST Tue. Nov. 14, 2006

Intel’s launch of quad-core processors will drive adoption of high-end Xeon servers and virtualization technology, but it may take some time before the platform takes off in the marketplace, solution providers say.

The Santa Clara, Calif.-based chip giant on Tuesday rolled out the industry’s first four-core processors, including three quad-core Xeon 5300 processors and the Core 2 Extreme Quad-Core Processor QX6700.

And in the first quarter of 2007, Intel plans to launch two more quad-cores: a low-voltage version for ultra-dense servers in a thermal envelope of 50 watts, and a single-socket processor for desktops and workstations. The mainstream quad-core desktop processor will be available in January, in time for the retail launch of Microsoft’s Windows Vista operating system, Intel said.

Partners applauded the improved performance of the quad-core and the opportunities it brings to the channel for servers, workstations and desktop PCs. Intel, which launched its first dual-core processors last April, has made a speedy ascent to quad-core, they said.

“It’s very cool that we’re already starting to talk about quad-cores, since dual-cores are just starting to really gain traction and acceptance in the mainstream market,” said Todd Swank, director of marketing at Nor-Tech, a system builder in Burnsville, Minn. “2007 is going to be a big year for computer resellers. With Vista being launched and these new hardware platforms, we’re setting the stage for a whole new wave of innovative applications to be launched.”

The quad-core Xeon 5300 chips have clock speeds ranging from 1.6GHz to 2.66GHz and front-side bus speeds of 1066MHz to 1333MHz in thermal envelopes of 80 watts. A performance-optimized, 120-watt version of the quad-core Xeon is available at a new price point of $1,172.