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Intel's McKinley tapes out, Itanium is Itanic

Itanium, Itanic, Unobtanium design won't clock

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Sources close to Intel said that its next generation of IA-64 processor, codenamed McKinley, has already taped out, a term which means that the chip company has advanced its plans for the chip by a clear 12 months.

But the source at Hewlett Packard, who declined to be named, also said that meant corporate America, by far the largest putative consumer of such a microprocessor, has forced the decision on Intel by rejecting its Merced-Itanium as unsuitable, even as a pilot system.

At its last Intel Developer Forum, held in August, the firm conceded it could not meet its targets on the Merced-Itanium processor. In practical design terms, the firm is unable to clock the processor at more than 800MHz, and even at those speeds the design is flaky.

The news appears to scotch persistent rumours that a team of engineers in Oregon have been quietly working behind the scenes on an alternative 64-bit design just in case AMD pulls out all the stops and launches its 64-bit Hammer technology earlier than expected.

Designers on the "Willamette" Pentium 4 project and the 603-pin server version, codenamed Foster, as reported here, had fumed that the 64-bit project was managed at Intel's Satan Clara HQ, rather than being farmed out more sensibly.

Intel will not comment on unannounced products, or it transpires, even on codenames. ®

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