Merced Tracks: Compaq's views on legacy

The Big Q outlines its thoughts

Intel Developer Forum At one of the tracks at IDF last week, Melvin Benedict, a Compaq architect, outlined what Intel's DIG64 push means for future hardware design. Benedict used much of his presentation to show that legacy items should not be used in Merced and IA-64 designs. He said legacy IO does not scale well enough, ISA cards used non-contiguous memory maps, the slots they occupy uses up precious real estate, VGA is a thing of the past, and all of this adds up to a big OS validation cost. IA-64 will catalyse the move away from these legacy platforms, while DIG64 is the opportunity to break away from such legacy problems. The abstraction of hardware functions by using EFI (extensible firmware interface) boot loader will be the key enabler for IA-64. Merced may supply optional support for IA-32 based operating systems, as well as for DOS and Windows 98 systems, he suggested. But a 64-bit platform is, he emphasised, not required to support non 64-bit OSs for compliance. That means the legacy hardware hooks on the platform can now be removed. DOS may be replaced with the EFI boot environment, he said. Serial, parallel and PS/2 ports should be replaced by USB technology in machines, he suggested, but IDE remains useful in the platform. ® Full IDF Summer 99 coverage

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