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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, also known as AIM. Originally intended for personal computers, PowerPC CPUs have since become popular as embedded and high-performance processors. As an evolving instruction set, PowerPC was renamed "Power ISA" in 2006, but lives on as a legacy trademark for some implementations of Power Architecture-based processors.


PowerPC was the cornerstone of AIM's PReP and Common Hardware Reference Platform initiatives in the 1990s. It is well known for being used by Apple's Power Macintosh lines from 1994 to 2006.[1] The architecture was also used in video game consoles (such as the Apple/Bandai Pippin, Sony's PlayStation 3, Microsoft's Xbox 360, and Nintendo's GameCube, Wii, and Wii U) and embedded applications that 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. PowerPC also integrates some elements of Motorola's 88110, an earlier RISC processor that Apple had investigated in a research project called Jaguar.[2]

At the Worldwide Developers Conference in June 2005, Apple CEO Steve Jobs announced that Apple would transition to Intel processors.[3]

Releases in Macintosh computers[]

PowerPC 601 80MHz

  PowerPC 601

1st generation[]

2nd generation[]

PowerPC 603 75MHz

PowerPC 603

X704 533-66 processor Exponential BGA

Exponential X704

3rd generation[]

4th generation[]

5th generation[]


Starting with the PowerPC G3, Apple started using marketing names and images that did not necessarily reflect the appearance of the actual processor in the system:


  1. Remembering the Final PowerPC Macs by Dan Bashur, Low End Mac. 2015-10-11.
  2. Looking Back: Jaguar was not the first Jaguar project at Apple, nor the first one to run Mach by Anthony Frausto, Architosh. 2003-08-12.
  3. Four years later: Why did Apple drop PowerPC? by Brooke Crothers, CNET. 2009-06-15.

External links[]

PowerPC microprocessors
PowerPC 601 | PowerPC 603 · 604 | X704 | PowerPC G3 | PowerPC G4 | PowerPC G5
Macs transitioned to Intel Core processors in 2006