Intel is making samples of its Penryn workstation and server chips widely available to computer makers ahead of a planned product launch during the fourth quarter, a company executive said Wednesday.

"We're now broadly sampling [Penryn] for all the various platforms," said John Antone, vice president and general manager of Intel Asia-Pacific, in a telephone interview.

Penryn is the code name for the 45-nanometre versions of Intel's processors. The workstation/server version of Penryn will be the first to hit the market in future Windows PCs (and likely Mac Pros too), followed by mobile and desktop chips.

Intel hasn't said publicly when the Penryn launch will happen, except to say the chips will be available during the fourth quarter. The company hopes the chips will keep up the pressure on rival AMD, which has seen its server market share shrink in recent months.

The Penryn launch will happen after AMD's upcoming workstation/server chip, called Barcelona, hits the market. Originally scheduled for a mid-year launch, the quad-core Barcelona chips will begin shipping in August, and will be available in servers from September. AMD is betting the chip's design and performance will stem its market share losses, but Intel remains confident that Penryn will extend its lead.

Preparations for Penryn's launch come as Intel appears to have regained its mojo following several missteps last year.

On Tuesday, Intel reported a 44-per cent increase in second-quarter profit, to $1.3 billion. Lower selling prices for its microprocessors during the period were offset by higher than expected unit shipments, the company said.

Asia-Pacific, excluding Japan, accounted for 51 per cent of Intel's $8.7 billion second-quarter sales, largely because so many of the world's computers are manufactured in the region, the company said. That figure does not reflect where those computers are bought by end users.

Looked at from a consumption basis, processor shipments to end users in the three main regions -- the Americas; Europe, the Middle East and Africa; and Asia -- are roughly equal, with each accounting for about one-third of unit shipments, Antone said.