Intel set up a $250 million (£155 million) cash pool last week,#163;155 million pool. available to software vendors to help them develop products for the IA-64 platform.
But none of the money will go to the big application vendors, the company said. It will all be spent encouraging smaller developers.
"None of that goes to the big guys," Paul Otellini, executive vice president and general manager of Intel's architecture group, told PC Week.
In addition, in order to receive investment from the fund, companies must give Intel a stake in their equity. Big firms would be less likely to agree to that arrangement, said Otellini.
Intel said that, despite reports to the contrary (PC Week, 11 May), there would be "enough" large independent software vendors (ISVs) with applications ready for Intel's 64-bit Merced platform at its mid-2000 launch. These would include Microsoft, with a 64-bit version of Windows, Otellini said.
The chipmaker aims to encourage smaller developers, particularly those involved in Internet-orientated development, to "optimise" for IA-64.
Intel said it was usual for chip vendors to put cash up to encourage developers to port to a new platform.
$100 million (£62 million) for the fund will come from Intel and the rest from companies including Compaq, Dell, Hewlett-Packard, NEC and SGI, together with investors Morgan Stanley Dean Witter, AIG/Sun America, Bank of America, Circuit City, Reuters, Sabre, Smith-Kline Beecham, Sumitomo and Telmex.
The fund is needed to ensure applications are ready. Customer acceptance of Merced depends on having a full portfolio of Merced-ready applications at the time of launch.
However, application vendors are reluctant to commit the development effort needed to make the leap from IA-32 to IA-64, - until they are convinced that the market is ready, said Paul Stow, vice president of servers at Fujitsu.
"Intel wants to break that circle," he added, with its $250 million (£155 million) investment.
Fujitsu said the demands on application vendors, and subsequently customers, from the transition from IA-32 to IA-64 means that volume sales of IA-64 are not expected until the second generation of the IA-64 chip, code-named McKinley.
Intel has said McKinley will double the performance of Merced, but that performance increase will be entirely dependent on Merced applications be recompiled for McKinley ( see PC Week, 11 May).
More enterprise news, p30.
INTEL AIMING TO KEEP UP WITH NET VIEWING
Intel also revealed last week that hardware vendors are developing "Internet viewing" devices, such as set-top boxes and personal organisers using Intel's embedded architecture. Intel will not be left behind in this market, Intel's Otellini said, in contrast to what has happened in the consumer market.
However, so far, Intel's impact in this market has been negligible. Otellini said few of these machines would turn up in business, so could turn out to be "a $zero billion market". He described Microsoft's WebTV and its competitors as a prototype, which couldn't offer full-blown Internet access without Intel's embedded technology.
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