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Merced project in utter disarray

Architect spills IA-64 beans. The thing isn't taped out yet. That's the reason for "babes in the wood"

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In some ways we're glad we wrote our words earlier on today showing the number of jobs available to outsiders. And in some ways we are not happy. Now a senior Intel Merced engineer, who refuses to be named under any circumstances, but who is thoroughly reliable, has given us the inside track on what's happening in the corporation. The engineer said that one of the biggest problems with Merced is where the architects are based. Around 70 per cent are based in Santa Clara, CA. He said: "It should not be based there, and I'll tell you why." According to the engineer on the team, Intel corporate culture is "seething with brutal peer competition and totally driven by greed". He gives us instances of this in action. He claims: "I can remember one instance while I worked at a different site where the middle managers actually sponsored a stock portfolio contest and actually spent resources (electronic, paper, administrative) to conduct the contest." He said that the most talented people quickly realised that they did not need to hang around and "be flogged like beef cattle". But his most damning criticism is this. Intel hires "babes from the woods" (new college grads) to replace departed (experienced) employees and somehow thinks that a design team made mostly of talented (if inexperienced) designers is going to get one of the most complex chip designs produced thus far out the door on schedule. Merced development is based in Santa Clara for simple reasons, he said. "That's where the managerial power is, in addition to all of the oafs who worked on Pentium who are so concerned with staying on high profile projects to justify (and grow) their stock options." People based in other IA-64 development locations, don't have the political influence to make changes, however bright they or their projects are, he added. And worse. Because of delays, engineers are now taking much of the testing and validation information out of the processor just to get it out of the door. Merced has thus failed to tape out and McKinley is Intel's great hope for IA-64, even though it will be developed by and managed by Hewlett Packard. Responding to the above story, an Intel representative said: "Merced remains a major focus for us and we're committed to the platform. The project remains on track." ®

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