Intel Corporation opened the Intel Developers Forum in Palm Springs, California this week with some stunning demonstrations of next-generation microprocessors that show where the company is heading in the current months. Intel CEO Craig Barrett showed off the prototype hardware during his keynote address on Tuesday.

First up was an 800 MHz Pentium III microprocessor, which Barrett says will ship in early 2000. 667 and 700 MHz versions (code-named "Coppermine") will debut in mid-October. Both designs feature a 0.18-micron process that utilizes Intel's new 133 MHz system bus and the 820 chipset, which supports high-speed RAMBUS Direct RAM. The chips are all running now, at room temperature, and are not early vaporware prototypes.

Intel's first IA-64 microprocessor, code-named "Merced," is on track for a mid-2000 release, including production systems from many major hardware makers. This 64-bit powerhouse, which will initially run at speeds of 700 MHz to 1 GHz, is already being manufactured and sent to OEMs for testing purposes. Two operating systems, 64-bit Windows 2000 and Linux, have booted and run off the new chip so far. Intel is pushing the Merced as the ultimate e-business chip because it meets the large memory, performance and high availability requirements that future data warehousing, e-business and other mission-critical server and workstation applications will require.

"We're happy with the number of OEMs we have signed up," Barrett told reporters after the speech. "Merced is a product. It was always meant to be a product.