The 32-bit Xeon processor is just beginning to break into the corporate mainstream, and the 64-bit Merced is two years away. But Intel is already describing the successors to those chips, which were designed for high-end workstations and servers.
Intel plans to deliver Xeon's 32-bit successor, code-named Foster, in 2000. Merced's 64-bit successor, McKinley, is due in 2001.
Intel officials said the chips will have at least twice the performance of their predecessors, especially in number crunching, design and graphics. Intel offered the road map to give end users who look to the latest and greatest processors a head start in planning to use the technology.
The jump in performance that the 64-bit McKinley provides may help Intel and PC server makers use Windows NT to carve more market share from the Unix market, analysts said.
And although the new chips are far off, some users are already anticipating the need to have computers based on them.
But, for the lower-end end user, the technology is probably nine months to one year behind the chip release dates, according to John Dunkle, an analyst at Workgroup Strategic Services in New Hampshire.
High end first
That's because, as usual, companies are likely to spend the extra money on high-end users to give them the best technology to get their jobs done, but will hold off for users where it isn't necessary.
Intel isn't talking pricing yet, but analysts familiar with the company said the new chips will likely debut in systems that start at about $US3000 for the typical workstation/PC and move upward in the server market.