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New Intel chip for mainframes

The next-generation 64-bit Merced is being targeted at the lofty mainframe market, signaling that future Intel chips will be used in increasingly complex computers.

Intel's (INTC) next-generation 64-bit Merced processor is being targeted for the lofty mainframe computer market, signaling that future Intel chips will be used in increasingly sophisticated computers.

NEC Japan will use the upcoming processor along with an as-yet-unannounced 64-bit version of Microsoft's Windows NT in its mainframe computers, according to Nikkei Computer, a major Japanese computer monthly.

The new Merced microprocessor is expected to hit the market in 1999.

NEC is studying ways to run NT applications in addition to existing mainframe applications on the same system, according to the report. The company will slowly migrate the NT operating system into its mainframe lineup as increasingly powerful systems become available.

The move is the latest signal that NEC has undergone a sea change in its attitude toward the PC architecture. Since the early 1990s, the company has sold PCs in Japan that use Intel processors and run Windows software but are nevertheless based on a proprietary architecture and not compatible with industry-standard Microsoft-Intel boxes.

Intel is an investor in CNET:The Computer Network.