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The question whether Merced has taped out or not is now becoming something of a burning issue, with Intel still refusing to give details on where it is on the 64-bit chip platform. our exclusive Merced pixYesterday, we reported that architects were divided over the viability of the platform, with one British scientist claiming that Merced will run slower and hotter than IA-32 architecture. Earlier this year, Stephen Smith, who runs the Merced programme at Intel in the US, said silicon samples would be ready in June. But only two months ago, Craig Barrett, CEO of Intel, seemed to suggest that such samples will now be late. The official Intel stance from the PR department is that the platform is still on target, with Merced sampling in "mid 1999". Earlier this year, insider reports reached our ears that a tapeout had been ordered by May 27th. Meanwhile, Henrik Klagges, an IT analyst at Strategy Partners, has confirmed there is considerable disquiet about Merced's speed in the wider community. He said: "A substantial number of people (including me) have said so, last not least in comp.arch, but also in public talks (e.g. DECUS) and the SAP user group etc. I even have a public bet outstanding for a bottle of champagne that when Merced ships, it will be slower than x86 on SPECint." ®

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