SAN FRANCISCO -- Intel Corp. introduced its latest microprocessor for server computers yesterday, one of a trio of new chips the world's biggest semiconductor maker is counting on to regain market share that it has lost to Advanced Micro Devices Inc.
The new Intel Xeon 5100 chip is the company's answer to AMD's Opteron processor, whose performance and power management have stolen customers from Intel for more than three years.
Intel says Xeon more than doubles the performance of its previous top-of-the-line server chip, while drawing 40 percent less power.
``We're back in a position we're used to being in, and that's undeniable leadership," Intel vice president Tom Kilroy said.
Intel shares rose 28 cents, or 1.6 percent, to $18.28. AMD shares fell 48 cents, or 1.9 percent, to $24.66.
The Xeon 5100 is the first chip to come to market using a new blueprint, or microarchitecture, that Santa Clara, Calif.-based Intel designed from scratch to help lower the energy consumption of servers and PCs. As businesses' computing needs have grown over the past several years, power consumption has emerged as one of the chief costs of running large data centers.
Intel said the chips, which feature two computing cores, or ``brains," on a single chip, also outperformed AMD's top Opteron product on more than 25 benchmarks commonly used to compare competing computers.
The Xeons are loaded with new features designed to boost power efficiency and add functions, Kilroy said. One allows the chip to draw less current by shutting off parts when they're not needed. Another feature adds so-called virtualization capabilities so administrators have more control over how tasks are doled out to various parts of their networks.
Prices range from $209 to $851 each, depending on their features when bought in volume.
In late July, Intel is expected to roll out a desktop processor based on the new microarchitecture, dubbed Core. Intel says the Core 2 Duo, which will feature two computing cores, will close the performance gap between its current desktop offerings and AMD's Athlon 64 processor.
A third release for notebook computers is expected in August, analysts say.
``Intel is clearly far more competitive now than they have been for the last few years," said Nathan Brookwood, an analyst with the research firm Insight 64. ``This is a big change and a big plus."