Intel Corp says it has now completed the microarchitecture definition of its Merced chip, and is into the final stages of functional RTL validation. An unidentified operating system has been ported and booted up. Sensitive to the possibility of delays, Intel claims that timing convergence is exceeding goals. It says the validation of the circuit design is making good progress, meaning that it is on time for samples in the middle of 1999, and production a year later. It recently shipped to OEMs the cartridge which will contain Merced and Intel-designed static cache RAM, complete with heat dissipation technology, so that they can make progress with system design. Intel also says its compiler optimization is meeting key milestones, multiple IA-64 operating systems and applications are booting on the Merced simulator, and chipsets and system designs are on track for first samples. Both Intel and third parties are shipping 64-bit software development kits and pre-silicon software development tools.