Semiconductor specialist Intel has embarked on its biggest product launch yet for enterprise systems, unveiling a dozen new Xeon processors, chipsets and platforms that will run on high-performance computer servers and workstations. 'Intel has consistently invested and innovated its way through the current economic downturn,' said Tom Burns, director for Intel's Asia-Pacific Internet solutions group. 'As a result, we're able to deliver an outstanding line of industry-leading enterprise products that will provide greater performance, innovation and outstanding value for information technology investments next year and beyond.' The product launch yesterday came seven years after Intel, the world's largest chip-maker, shipped its first multiprocessor-capable chip in November 1995. Its latest products, now headed to many major computer makers, are designed to bring down the cost of high-performance computing for organisations. The company announced four new Xeon DP processors designed for two-way servers and workstations, which are machines able to run two processors simultaneously, at speeds of up to 2.8 gigahertz. The new processors add support for a faster, 533-megahertz front side-bus, which is the physical connection between the processor and chipset. Three new chipsets were also unveiled. When used with the new processors and the faster bus, the new E7501 chipset for two-way servers is expected to improve system performance by more than 25 per cent. This product is also destined for the embedded computing market, where it will be made part of communications gear that handles load-balancing, network security, traffic management, and Web caching. The new E7505 chipset is for two-way workstations using Xeon processors, while the E7205 chipset is for single-processor, entry-level workstations based on the Pentium 4 processor. Intel also announced five new server platforms, based on the new processors and chipsets, which are expected to help computer makers step up their production of a new generation of server computers. The Intel platforms will begin shipping in two weeks, continuing into the first quarter next year. 'We have very broad industry support worldwide for these new products,' Mr Burns said. Computer makers now developing more advanced servers and workstations based on Intel's new Xeon processors, chipsets and server platforms include IBM, Hewlett-Packard, Dell Computer, NEC, Legend and Founder. Mr Burns said the new Xeon processor products would contribute 'to achieving many analyst predictions that next year will see revenues from Intel-based servers exceed revenues from Risc-based servers'. Risc (reduced instruction set computing) processors such as Sun Microsystems' Ultra-Sparc chip are designed specifically for use in servers that run different flavours of the Unix operating system. Research firm Gartner's Dataquest unit estimated worldwide sales of Intel-based servers would increase to about US$20 billion next year, which would see them advance past Risc-based server sales for the first time. According to analysis by International Data Corp, Intel-based server shipments have grown to 87 per cent of all servers shipped since the first quarter of 1996, the earliest date for which figures are available. The latest Xeon-based product launch rounded out a busy month for Intel in the enterprise market. The company also announced new software running on its Itanium 2 processors and new large-cache Xeon MP processors at speeds up to 2GHz for servers able to run four or more processors simultaneously.