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Intel doctors Foster to extend life of IA-32 architecture

Post-Merced IA-64 line announced too

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Intel revealed details of its future IA-32 processor technology, codenamed Foster, at this year's Microprocessor Forum. The company also discussed its positioning of the IA-64-based Merced and its successors, McKinley, Madison and Deerfield. Foster is set to ship late 2000/early 2001 and, according to Intel Microprocessor Products Group VP Steve Smith, will be based on a new core design which will replace the P6-based core currently used in Xeon and to be extended with the Katmai multimedia instructions in Tanner and then Cascades. Foster will be designed specifically for 0.18-micron technology, though later versions will use a 0.13-micron process. It will feature larger than ever L1 and L2 cache, and the latter will be built into the chip die. Intel has specified an initial clock speed of 1GHz for the new chip. "We see the IA-32 architecture going on long into the future serving volume markets in the PC and workstation spaces," said Smith. In other words, it will fill the gap below the high-end workstation and server markets Intel is targetting with Merced. That chip will be followed a year later (2001) by McKinley, which, claimed Smith, would offer twice the performance of its predecessor. In fact, Merced is looking dedicedly weak these days -- according to Intel's own roadmap, its barely more powerful than Foster is predicted to be. The major leap will come with McKinley -- "which will contain all we've learned from Merced", said Smith -- which will offer three times Merced's bus bandwidth, offer far larger, on-chip caches (Merced itself will support multi-megabyte L2 sizes) and clock speeds of over 1GHz. McKinley will be followed in late 2001 and early 2002 by Madison and Deerfield, respectively. Madison will continue McKinley's upward performance trend, while Deerfield will offer less impressive improvements over McKinley as a trade-off for a lower price point, said Smith. Intel's roadmap calls for a successor to Foster to be launched at this point, but given IA-32 support is being built into Merced and will presumably be much improved in its successors, it's not hard to imagine Deerfield being positioned as the successor to Foster. ® Click for more stories

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