Following news of Hewlett-Packard Co’s MPE/iX division of a PA- 8550 follow-on to the PA-8500 RISC chip, Merrill Lynch & Co has unearthed what it believes could be a PA-8900 part. The news is significant for the light it throws on the reported delays affecting Intel’s forthcoming 64-bit Merced chip. HP is partnering with Intel on the development of Merced and plans to move its PA-RISC users over to the Intel line. But HP is hedging its bets with the continued development of the PA line. The 8500 itself is not due to ship in systems until later this year (CI No 3,466). Although HP says the Merced delay is no big deal, respected industry pundits, including The Microprocessor Report, believe that McKinley, the follow-on chip to Merced, could easily end up eclipsing the first-generation IA-64 part as the focus of Intel and its partners’ aim. The paper believes McKinley will be the first Intel chip to be manufactured using a 0.13 micron copper-based production process, and that if Merced is delayed further, it could be relegated to the status of a development part by the newer chip. McKinley, which Computerwire first unearthed last year (CI No 3,309), is expected to offer twice the performance of Merced when it comes to market in 2001. Meantime, Merrill Lynch hears that HP’s 32-way server due later this year, set to offer twice the capacity of its existing line, will use the 0.25 micron PA-8500-based V2500 part. HP has already said it will enable four 32-way servers to be linked using its Convex Computer unit’s ccNUMA technology. And following Sun’s claim to lead the industry in terms of numbers of physical servers shipped in 1997 (CI No 3,461) HP says IDC’s first quarter 1998 market numbers show that it’s now overtaken IBM Corp in the $100,000-to- $1m mid-range market with a leading 24% market share, and sold more Unix servers in dollar value in the quarter (23%) than Sun (at 21%) or IBM (at 16%). IBM’s share declined 8% from 1997, suggesting that HP is taking business away from IBM, but not Sun.