Intel has plans in place to allow customers to move more smoothly from 32-bit to 64-bit architectures, but that could mean the effective end of the current Slot cartridge system, disrupting PC makers' plans.
According to US sources, Intel will make a 32-bit, Pentium II-based processor, which will use something called Slot M as its basis, under the codename Tanner. This will be entirely different to the Slot 2 connection used in the upcoming Deschutes processor, but will be compatible with Merced.
That will force users into a path where they can move from 32-bit Pentium systems straight to Merced systems, with both Tanner and Merced occupying the same slots, according to Linley Gwennap, the publisher of the influential US-based 'Microprocessor Report'.
Meanwhile, Intel confirmed that it will hang on to x.86 compatibility in the Merced processor, using a part of the CPU that deals with binaries, as previously reported on the 'VNU Newswire'.
According to Gwennap, Slot M will have a 128-bit bus and use direct RDram memory as part of its design.
Sources close to Intel say it has already outlined plans to move to an entirely new Slot architecture to its OEMs in a briefing document. Early samples of Merced are expected to arrive at year-end.
But the move to a new Slot architecture could disrupt the plans that Intel?s OEM customers have for Slot 2 Deschutes. These will now arrive in the second half of the year and are aimed at symmetric multiprocessing (SMP) systems.
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