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Intel makes first five Merced fund investments

The venture fund created to promote software for Intel's upcoming 64-bit processors has placed its first investments while two new investors come on board.

The venture fund created to promote software for Intel's upcoming 64-bit processors has placed its first five investments while the fund has expanded to include two new investors.

The companies receiving funding today are Extricity Software, Monterey Design Systems, SpeechWorks International, TimesTen performance Software and WebLine Communications. New investors in the fund include Boeing and Enron.

The $250 million fund, which Intel and its partners created earlier this year, is targeted at encouraging developers, content providers, hardware manufacturers, and ISPs, among others, to tune their products for chips based around the "IA-64" architecture. The IA-64 chips will be capable of handling 64 bits of data at once, similar to Alpha and Ultrasparc processors, and be targeted for use in large corporate servers and professional workstations. Current Intel processors handle only 32 bits of information at once.

Merced, the first IA-64 chip, is due in mid-2000 while its successor, McKinley, is expected to arrive at the end of 2001.

Although nearly every server maker and operating system developer are planning to support Merced, any market shift to the Intel platform will likely be more gradual than sudden. Delays to Merced, among other announcements, have tended to dampen some of the enthusiasm for the platform. SGI, for instance, recently extended the road map for its own processors because it said its customers wanted to take a more gradual approach to adopting IA-64.

The companies receiving funding today operate in a variety of areas. SpeechWorks, for example, makes phone-based e-commerce applications while Monterey specializes in design software for the electronic design automation market.

Other investors in the fund include Compaq Computer, Morgan Stanley Dean Witter, SGI, and Dell Computer.