Intel has launching a quad-core chip for desktop gamers, continuing a barrage of new products the company has announced in the past week.

The Core 2 Extreme QX6800 runs at 2.93GHz, the fastest speed yet of the 12 designs of quad-core processors the company has launched since it announced the ‘Clovertown’ Xeon server chip in November. That speed makes the chip a good fit for gamers and digital designers, the company said.

Multicore chips can speed up computers that run multithreaded software, dividing large jobs into several parallel parts. Until now, that software has been available mostly for server applications, but software developers have announced an increasing number of multi-threaded games, including Supreme Commander from Gas Powered Games and Hellgate London from Flagship Studios. Microsoft is scheduled to join that group later this month when it releases a multithreaded version of its venerable Flight Simulator.

The new chip will also reduce waiting time for high-definition media editing jobs such as video encoding, said Eric Kim, senior vice president and general manager of Intel's Digital Home Group.

Intel has unveiled a range of new products in recent weeks as the company keeps pressure on chip-making rival AMD. AMD is scheduled to launch a quad-core chip design by the middle of 2007 with the ‘Barcelona’ Opteron server chip.

On Thursday, Intel launched two low-power versions of its Core 2 Duo processor, the U7600 and U7500 chips. On Wednesday, Intel announced a plan to merge aspects of its vPro IT management package into its pending ‘Santa Rosa’ Centrino notebook platform, due to reach markets in June. And on Tuesday, Intel launched two quad-core processors for high-end embedded applications.