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October 8, 1998

INTEL’S FIRST ‘P7’ PARTS WILL OUTPERFORM MERCED

By CBR Staff Writer

Intel Corp has no intention of betting its entire future on the success of its forthcoming 64-bit Merced range of chips, and has now revealed more details about the continuation of its mainstream 32-bit product line. While Merced and its follow-on McKinley will use the exotic Epic very-long instruction word architecture, and will be aimed at high-end workstations and servers running 64-bit vector and floating-point intensive applications, two new 32-bit chips will provide upgrades for those not wishing to make such a radical, technical leap from current generation Pentium chips. The two parts, codenamed Foster and Willamette, will feature a new microarchitecture, and could best be regarded as the ‘P7’ follow-on to the current ‘P6’ PentiumPro and Pentium IIs – though Intel itself hasn’t called it that. They will be aimed at desktop and volume workstation and server systems, and come out after Intel’s previously detailed P6 upgrades, Tanner, Coppermine and Cascade (CI No 3,497). Foster, due by the end of 2000, is the higher-end part, and will show up, initially using Intel’s 0.18 micron process technology, at speeds of around 1GHz. Willamette is the desktop version of Foster, carrying forward Intel’s current policy of providing market- segmented products. With its faster clock speed than Merced, and new features such as an extended pipeline and trace caching to increase the instruction fetch rate, Foster is expected to run 32-bit integer intensive applications at a faster rate than Merced. The 64-bit parts won’t catch up in performance terms until the 1GHz McKinley, twice as fast as Merced and with a much larger cache, emerges early in 2002. Intel says it remains on track to meet the revised schedules for Merced, announced in May, and has been making all of its internal milestones. The chip is set to be released in the middle of 2000, though samples should reach OEMs by mid-1999. Both lines will eventually migrate to 0.18 micron process technology, said Intel. Hewlett-Packard Co is similarly hedging its bets by keeping up with the development of PA-RISC chips until the Merced-line offers greater performance. HP now says it will be producing two more generations of the PA- RISC.

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