Intel has announced a new range-topping quad-core chip that boosts speeds - and the likelihood you'll be able to afford something similar soon. The new chip retains the Intel Core2 Extreme branding of the other model, but the 65-nm-based QX6800 has all four cores clocked at 2.93 GHz.

Intel isn't making a song and dance about its new chip - the company's 12th quad-core offering - merely a bit of a jig. After all, there's nothing mass market about this new silicon; it's aimed squarely at the enthusiast market. But in developing another consumer-orientated quad-core offerings it's clear that the chip giant expects the demand for quad-core products to grow significantly during the remainder of 2007.

Intel estimates that, for video encoding, the new quad-core Extreme part is 65 per cent faster than it's dual-core ancestor.

Penryn, the 45nm die-shrink of the Core2 architecture, is on track for the latter quarter of this year. The new series of chips will replace the current Conroe dual-core silicon based on the 65-nm Core2 architecture.

Intel has previously announced several factories are ready to begin mass production of chips based on the 45nm process in the second half of 2007.

The company says it has five early version 45nm chips running with 15 processors in the pipeline for release. It seems these will continue to have the same Core and Xeon-based branding as before.

"The performance and technology leadership we are delivering with our enthusiast quad-core processor line-up is a direct result of the reliability provided by Intel's manufacturing and engineering strength," said Eric Kim, senior vice president and general manager of Intel's Digital Home Group.

"This translates to user benefits such as better gameplay with more intelligent computer-generated opponents and less wait time for demanding high-definition media editing."

The new chip has a basic list price of $1,199 (£608).