PowerPC

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PowerPC (short for Performance Optimization With Enhanced RISC – Performance Computing, sometimes abbreviated as PPC) is a RISC architecture created by the 1991 AppleIBMMotorola alliance, known as AIM. PowerPC, as an evolving instruction set, has since 2006 been renamed Power ISA but lives on as a legacy trademark for some implementations of Power Architecture based processors.

Originally intended for personal computers, PowerPC CPUs have since become popular embedded and high-performance processors. PowerPC was the cornerstone of AIM's PReP and Common Hardware Reference Platform initiatives in the 1990s and while the architecture is well known for being used by Apple's Macintosh lines from 1994 to 2006 (before Apple's transition to Intel), its use in video game consoles and embedded applications far exceeded Apple's use.

PowerPC is largely based on IBM's earlier POWER architecture, and retains a high level of compatibility with it; the architectures have remained close enough that the same programs and operating systems will run on both if some care is taken in preparation; newer chips in the POWER series implement the full PowerPC instruction set.

The “PC” in “PowerPC” originally stood for “Performance Computing”; despite the coincidence of IBM’s involvement in the development of the PowerPC architecture, it is not in any way related to the IBM PC.

Contents

History

The history of the PowerPC begins with IBM's 801 prototype chip of John Cocke's RISC ideas in the late 1970s. 801-based cores were used in a number of IBM embedded products, eventually becoming the 16-register ROMP processor used in the IBM RT. The RT had disappointing performance and IBM started the America Project to build the fastest processor on the market. The result was the POWER architecture, introduced with the RISC System/6000 in early 1990.

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