Even though Merced, the code-name for Intel's first 64-bit microprocessor has been delayed until 2000, the company has already started promoting its successor, code-named "McKinley." The 64-bit McKinley CPU will reportedly offer twice the performance of Merced when it arrives in 2001. The news of this successor comes at a strange time, when you consider that Intel has spent the past year building up Merced as the savior of the x86 line, only to cast doubt on it now. Intel, at least publicly, won't admit that Merced is only a bump in the road.
"We have unprecedented computer vendor and OS vendor support for Merced. There are considerable product plans for Merced, the product," said Intel spokesperson Bill Miller.
When--and if--Merced is released, it will debut at clock speeds of at least 800 MHz and be capable of a processing 6-8 instructions per clock cycle, compared to today's chips, which are capable of 1-2 instructions at a time. Meanwhile, other high-end competitors, such as Compaq's 64-bit Alpha and the IBM copper process chips, should be able to at least meet Merced's specifications by 2000 as well.