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Prototype Merced systems are failing to reach satisfactory clock speeds ... and this makes Intel CEO Craig Barrett hopping mad. Or so Forbes claims. Intel's flagship 64-bit processor is failing to perform as fast as anticipated, according to the magazine The prototype machines are restricted to around 400MHz, but also need huge power supplies to keep them humming, Forbes says. Two weeks ago, we reported on the basis of information from Intel partner Hewlett Packard, that we could not expect realistically to see Merced Itanium machines appear on the market until October 2000. Although this falls into the second half of next year, Intel had hoped that machines would be available earlier than that. And, again according to HP, initial systems are supposed to clock at around 800MHz. Intel's problem with the clock speed of the Merced is aggravated by competition from both Compaq with its Alpha processor and AMD with its Athlon processor. AMD, for example, is easily reaching 1GHz already with the Athlon, and is now in the happy position of being able to pick and choose when to introduce microprocessors at that speed. The AMD part is a 32-bit chip. And both Compaq and its partner API are likely to have air cooled 1GHz Alphas available before any Merced box gets out of the door. The Alpha processor is a 64-bit chip. You can find the Forbes story here. It has the title "Intel's Annum Horribilis", the headline seeming to come horribly close to the piece which we wrote called Intel's Annum Horribilis here... ®

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