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Merced chieftain outlines futures

Verbatim notes from our pow-wow with Stephen Smith

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At the Intel Developer Forum in Palm Springs last week, Steve Smith, VP and general manager in charge of the company's IA-64 programme, was pleasantly forthcoming about the Merced package he showed us. He even allowed us to take photographs, which we considered was something of a breakthrough. What follows are the verbatim notes from our discussion at the dinner table. The Merced cartridge photographs can be found here. Smith acknowledged that the package contained no silicon but said: "Everything is there apart from the silicon. This is a prototype of the cartridge, which [has connectors] like the pin grid array. "We're driven by the electricals," he said. "You can have two processors on top of the motherboard and two cartridges on the underside. We deliver the power through the edge connector. Next to the microprocessor there will be a power pod, DC to DC, feeding the cartridge through a copper connector. We have already provided samples to our OEMs, the changes [to the design] would be very minor." Smith said: "Level two cache will be on a small motherboard within the packaging. The Merced CPU will be built with a 0.18 micron process. The interface between the microprocessor and the L2 cache runs at full clock. We're using custom design SRAMs. "The cartridge has slightly smaller dimensions than a Rolodex -- it's the size of a US index card. We'll give clock rates and performance levels later on. The first samples will be in mid-99. "When you talk about Celerons, we know our intention is to go to volume very quickly. In the case of Merced, there's a much smaller number of OEMs. The cartridge has been through many design iterations. "We have a model on all levels and we're working on a workstation level. We run all these simulations on many hundreds of workstations. We've booted an OS on a gate level. "We're very far along with the Linux discussions. There are very few [designers] who are expert enought to port the kernel. We know Linus, we work with him and we've worked with him before.We have something to announce very shortly. "With the Alpha platform we know competitively what we face." ®

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