As it seeks to fend off competitive threats from AMD, chip maker Intel has released its dual-core Xeon processor, code-named 'Woodcrest,' the first based on its new Core microarchitecture.

The Intel Xeon 5100 chip reduces power consumption by 40 per cent while improving performance by three times compared with its prior processors, said Pat Gelsinger, senior vice president and general manager of Intel's Digital Enterprise Group, at a launch event in New York.

With improvements in energy efficiency and virtualization, the new chip is aimed at helping address challenges IT managers face in the data center around space, power, cooling and server utilization, Gelsinger said.

"The Intel Xeon 5100 is taking a huge step to address many of those challenges," Gelsinger said.

The chip, which is based on the 65-nanometre manufacturing process, drops into Intel's Bensley platform, as does the Xeon Dempsey chip Intel released in May. Intel said the platform will also support its upcoming quad-core Clovertown processor as well as future 45-nm dual-core and quad-core chips.

The Bensley platform includes faster and more reliable memory technology called FB-DIMMs, virtualization capabilities, and Intel I/O Acceleration Technology for increasing data throughput.

Intel later this quarter plans to release a Core architecture processor for the desktop, code-named Conroe, and one for mobile computing, code-named Merom.

Some 150 different companies will offer more than 200 Xeon 5100 platforms, Intel said, with several major workstation makers, including Dell, HP and IBM, already unveiling products.