Later today at its annual developer's forum in Palm Springs, Intel is expected to demonstrate the first Merced actually produced in silicon.
Company chief executive Craig Barrett is expected to kick off conference proceedings with a demonstration of Intel's much talked about 64bit Merced chip in silicon, rather than a just a software simulation.
According to senior Dataquest analyst Joe D'Elia, Intel usually announces the first silicon around nine months before a new chip is due to launch. Merced is expected to ship in mid 2001. Between now and Merced's launch next year Intel will ship thousands of units to developers.
An Intel spokesman agreed it was very likely that Barrett would show the first Merced silicon at the show.
He commented: "Intel have finished the design process and the silicon is due around now."
Dataquest's D'Elia said that despite the hype surrounding Merced's launch, it will be a little while before the new architecture is adopted.
"The only people who really need it are people dealing with large databases and Web site engines," he said. "People needing addressability rather than performance. It may not become a mainstream product straightaway."
He said that because the chip is the first of a new architecture, it will take a while for people to migrate.
"Come McKinley in 2001 (Merced's successor), that's when you'll get the performance shift," he predicted.
In the meantime, he said any delay in the adoption of Merced is good news for most IT vendors.
"From their perspective, the longer you can delay the change the better, everything changes too fast for customers these days anyway," he said.
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