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Dell beats Apple in unveiling 8 core Xeon workstations

Dell, Inc. said Wednesday it's the first PC maker to market with workstations that feature Intel Corp.'s new quad-core processors, beating longtime-rival Apple Computer whose Mac Pro professional desktops have yet to make the jump from dual-core chips.

The world's second-leading PC manufacturer said customers can now configure its two-socket Dell Precision 690 and Dell Precision 490 workstations with two new Quad-Core Intel Xeon chips, delivering a total of 8 processing cores and performance gains of up to 54 percent on multi-threaded applications.

"Dell prides itself not only on being first to market with technology, but first to deliver exceptional value to the customer while helping to reduce costly complexity in their environment," said Brad Anderson, senior vice president, Dell Product Group.

Bare bones dual-core Dell Precision 690 and 490 models start at just $2,399 and $2,149, respectively, but require a minimum investment of $4,392 and $5,348 when configured with two quad-core Xeons running at 1.86GHz —the only variant of Intel's new quad-core Xeon that it offers.

The Round Rock, Texas-based PC manufacturer also announced the addition of Quad-Core Intel  Xeon processors to its two-socket Dell PowerEdge 1900, 1950, 2950, 2900, SC1430 and 1955 blade models. Prices start at $1,599, $1,599, 1,699, $1,049 and $1,799 respectively.

Customers may begin to place orders for Precision and PowerEdge quad-core computers beginning today, but Dell says shipments of those systems may be delayed by more than two weeks.

Meanwhile, Apple Computer is also expected to soon introduce a version of its Mac Pro professional desktop systems that will also boast 8 cores via two Intel Quad-Core Xeon chips. People familiar with the Cupertino, Calif.-based Mac maker's plans have said to expect an announcement any time after the first half of November.

Apple's Mac Pro is a relatively new system, having been introduced just this past August. It's currently available in a single $2,499 configuration that packs two 2.66 GHz Dual-Core Intel Xeon processors, 1GB of 667 MHz DDR2 fully-buffered ECC memory, a NVIDIA GeForce 7300 GT with 256MB of GDDR2 SDRAM and a 250GB Serial ATA (3Gb/s) hard drive running at 7200 rpm.

The Mac Pro can also be configured with up to two 3.0GHz Dual-Core Intel Xeon processors through the company's online store.