Confirming earlier reports, Intel has officially unveiled its six-core server microprocessors. Codenamed Dunnington, the new chips are part of the Xeon 7400 family of processors, which comes in four-core and six-core versions designed to be used in systems with four or more processors.

Intel says the new chips deliver 50 percent better performance and 10 percent lower power consumption than the previous line of Xeon CPUs. Much of this performance boost logically comes from the extra cores, but also due to the included 16MB of shared L3 cache, marking the first time the Xeon architecture has had L3 cache on the chip.

The chip giant will be offering seven flavors initially - three six-core versions and four quad-cores. The line tops out at 2.66GHz with a 130W thermal design point, but there are also low-power versions that bring TDP levels down to 50W for the quad-core and 65W for the six-core, both running at 2.13GHz.

Intel expects several large-scale PC companies to build systems based on these chips, which range in cost from $856 to $2,729 in batches of 1,000. These are the last of Intel's Penryn-class chips, which will be followed by Nehalem architecture, due to appear initially as the Core i7 processor in the fourth quarter.