Definition

PowerPC

PowerPC is a microprocessor architecture that was developed jointly by Apple, IBM, and Motorola. The PowerPC employs reduced instruction-set computing (RISC). The three developing companies have made the PowerPC architecture an open standard, inviting other companies to build on it.

Developed at IBM, reduced instruction-set computing (RISC) is based on studies showing that the simplest computer instructions are the ones most frequently performed. Traditionally, processors have been designed to accommodate the more complex instructions as well. RISC performs the more complex instructions using combinations of simple instructions. The timing for the processor can then be based on simpler and faster operations, enabling the microprocessor to perform more instructions for a given clock speed.

The PowerPC architecture provides an alternative to the popular processor architectures from Intel, including the Pentium. (Microsoft builds its Windows operating system offerings to run on Intel processors, and this widely-sold combination is sometimes called "Wintel".) The PowerPC was first used in IBM's RS/6000 workstation with its UNIX-based operating system, AIX, and in Apple Computer's Macintosh personal computers. Today, PowerPC chips are also used in diverse applications including internetworking equipment, routers, telecom switches, interactive multimedia, automotive control, and industrial robotics.

Contributor(s): Jason Sims and Michael Svensson
This was last updated in September 2006
Posted by: Margaret Rouse

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