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EETimes: Analysis: 64-bit rivals set to take on Merced

“The microprocessors that will drive the next generation of
64-bit computing–from Intel, Apple and Sun Microsystems–moved off
the starting blocks and rolled toward the marketplace this week,
sparking a rush of competitive jockeying in an industry segment
that lately has been marked more by promises than by shipping
processors.

Also firmly in the mix is Compaq, which is quietly preparing its
powerful, next-generation Alpha. High-end spins of
Hewlett-Packard’s PA and Silicon Graphics’ MIPS processor are in
the works as well, although both companies have committed
themselves to the IA-64 architecture, jointly developed by Intel
and HP, for the long haul.”

“Now that Merced has made its appearance, however, the
competitive landscape may have actually become more of a minefield,
according to some analysts.”

“Intel president and CEO Craig Barrett kicked off the
Merced-fest during his keynote speech, when he demonstrated a
workstation platform, equipped with the processor, running Windows
2000 as well as Linux.”

“Another Intel official said Merced will be faster than the
Pentium III, placing it in the 800-MHz ballpark. Merced remains a
code name; Intel said it has not yet decided on an official product
name. As for cost, vice president of marketing Ron Curry said,
“Merced will be priced consistent with the Xeon product line.”

While Merced and Ultrasparc III will play in the stratosphere of
the workstation and server markets, much interest last week
revolved around the San Francisco debut of the G4 PowerPC. Even
though Apple’s Jobs hyberbolically billed the G4 as a
‘supercomputer on a chip,’ analysts believe it is likely to be more
of a niche product, given the company’s traditional markets.”

“Even with Alpha and Ultrasparc in the picture, Intel believes
it has licked the one paper spec that has kept it from pushing to
the front of the pack: floating-point performance. Merced will
deliver 6 Gflops of single-precision floating-point and 3 Gflops
double precision.”

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