Hewlett-Packard Co is now saying that it doesn’t expect to see Merced – Intel Corp’s implementation of the 64-bit IA-64 instruction set architecture which was co-developed with HP – until the second half of 1999. That flies in the face of Intel chief executive Andy Groves’ keynote presentation at the Innovate 97 conference in Houston, Texas, which showed Merced hitting the streets late 1998 or early 1999 (CI No 3,137). HP also now says categorically that once Merced does arrive it will discontinue its Precision Architecture RISC (PA-RISC) chip: we will not have two chips, says the company. It’s quick to temper that with a commitment to support its existing PA-RISC customers for, two, three, or more years. But the news still seems to contradict what HP was saying as recently as June this year (CI No 3,181), when it vowed that there was between three and five years life left in its PA-RISC microprocessor family, and that it would cut more PA-RISCs alongside Merced. At a time when Merced was expected in late 1998 that seemed plausible enough. HP had said that it will start shipping the latest version of its PA-RISC chip, the PA-8500, around the middle of 1998; and there’s apparently at least one more PA-RISC part (CI No 3,120) waiting in the wings. But that roadmap takes HP conveniently up to – and not beyond – the ‘new’ date for Merced, so it’s now just as plausible that Merced will be the only horse in HP’s stable when it makes its debut.