Intel, HP say Merced will be EPIC

SAN JOSE, CALIF.—Intel Corp. and Hewlett Packard Co. used the Microprocessor Forum Tuesday to make their first public disclosure of its 64-bit architecture.

Merced, the first Intel processor to incorporate the 64-bit architecture, will be delivered in 1999. Intel and HP jointly described an architecture dubbed EPIC. The acronym stands for the four properties that will make up a big piece of IA-64 -- explicitly parallel instruction computing. HP manager and lead architect Jerry Huck described EPIC as a successor to CISC and RISC.

A big contributor to the performance of IA-64 processors is overcoming problems with things like parallelism, prediction and speculation.

To simplify the concept, Huck gave a bank analogy. For example, he explained that if a customer walks into a bank, a teller would be able to predict what type of transaction the customer wants. This means that the customer (or system, as it were) will not waste time waiting to be told what transactions to execute.

IA-64 will boast "explicit parallelism" which exposes, enhances and exploits parallelism and makes it explicit in the machine code.

The word Merced was mentioned only once during the presentation, when Intel fellow John Crawford said Merced would be the first processor to incorporate IA-64. Although both HP and Intel did not provide market positioning information, they said IA-64 will address enterprise transaction, decision support, graphical imaging and volume rendering applications among others.