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Even before the latest delay to IA-64, Intel's biggest users aren't prepared to jump. According to SCO sources, only one of the companies top 30-odd UnixWare accounts is prepared for IA-64 deployment when Itanic finally rolls down the slipway.

Another source confirmed that leaks to The Register earlier this year were accurate, and that initial pricing for Merced would be in the $4000 range.

"It's true, they're not planning deployments," confirmed John Bondi, SCO's world wide president for technology marketing. But he said Itanic was already being used as stick to beat keep price pressure on the RISC vendors, where RISC systems are deployed.

Although Sequent sells bigger Intel-based systems, SCO sells far more in the volume business, which is where Intel is serious about Itanic in the long term. It can't afford not to be.

Bondi couldn't comment on initial pricing, but reckons that within two to three years the difference between high-end IA-32 and Itanic would be down to $1000, which amounts for a trivial amount compared to large memory - web caching and main memory databases.

"64-bit does give you the chance to address more memory. We've got customers with 4GB of memory, who want to add more. When you're spending $16,000 on memory the price of the processors is only a small amount of the system price," he said.

"Intel is extremely sophisticated when it comes to pricing. It's not going to be another 432" he says. The iAPX-432 "MicroMainframe" was an ambitious 32bit processor announced by Intel in 1981, and is all but airbrushed from the company's history. Even the Usenet group has disappeared, but you can read about it here.

Officially SCO says it's too early to tell if AMD's 64-bit Hammer will make an impact. "There's no doubt that it will load and run, but whether it will perform depends on the implementation. Whether it gives you better perfomance than an Itanium - we can't tell you yet," said David McCrabb, SCO's server chief.

Bondi said Scaldera wouldn't do anything to "in the medium to long term Linux is the enterprise OS. It's not in our interest too defend UnixWare against that". ®

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