Intel officially announced Thursday that its next generation microprocessor, the 64-bit Merced, would be available to the public in 1999. Previously, the company had stated only that it would be available by the turn of the century.
One surprising detail emerged as well: the Merced will be built using a new .18 micron process, which is far smaller than the .25 micron process most people expected. This means that the chip will run cooler and faster than previously thought. It will also be cheaper, since more chips can be made from the same wafer.
Intel also announced that numerous companies, such as Dell, Compaq, Microsoft, and Hewlett-Packard, are now working with early versions of Merced. Next week at the Microprocessor Forum, Intel is expected to release more details about the Merced and other upcoming products