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Intel to go for McKinley before Itanium-Merced

Clock speeds on Itanium don't match chip needs

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Updated Chipzilla's follow up to the Merced-Itanium platform, McKinley, is likely to beat its predecessor to the market, informed sources told The Register late today. This, however, is something that Intel absolutely rebuts, according to a company representative who claimed that the Itanium processor is "absolutely on schedule". He would not however comment on whether McKinley is close to taping out. McKinley is close to taping out and the IA-64 development team believes that limited clock speeds on Itanium yields have forced Intel to this conclusion. The Merced-Itanium has so far failed to achieve over 600MHz clock speeds on the part, although Intel and its partners want it to clock at at least 1GHz. Official HP charts show that they want 800MHz from Itanium-Merced before it can be a viable microprocessor for the competitive 64-bit market. In part, that is prompted by AMD's success with its 64-bit chip, codenamed Sledgehammer. McKinley, when it tapes out, will hit 1GHz "straight out of the starting gate", the source added. Taping out is chip company speak for the design being finished. That suggests silicon samples of McKinley at 1GHz may arrive as early as June. Even long-time IA64 platform partner Hewlett Packard said before Christmas, and on the record, that it was likely to be October before we saw Itanium Merced systems. Over the weekend, persistent rumours and insider emails have suggested that Intel is ramping up Willamette far faster than it originally wanted, and that competition from AMD on the Athlon has forced a re-visiting of its chip development strategies. According to these sources, Willamette did tape out only a few weeks ago. This may also explain why there is a sudden lack of ramp-up to the Coppermine platform, as Intel, normally very fast footed, reacts to market realities. ®

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