PowerPC: Apple's Move to RISC
Author: reprinted from Quick Connect
Date: October, 1993
Keywords: Apple computer IBM chip
Text: IN A WORLD OF FAST-CHANGING TECHNOLOGIES AND PRODUCTS, USER GROUPS PLAY AN INVALUABLE ROLE IN HELPING MEMBERS ANTICIPATE AND PLAN FOR THE FUTURE. AND TODAY, NO ASPECT OF APPLE'S FUTURE IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN THE POWER PC. The term PowerPC refers both to an alliance - involving Apple, IBM, and Motorola - and the fruits of that partnership: a new generation of high-performance RISC (Reduced Instruction Set Computing) processors that will power Macintosh into the next century. PowerPC will bring big changes to the Macintosh family, including faster performance and expanded capabilities. But key aspects of Macintosh will not change at all, and User Groups could prove pivotal in helping users keep this emerging technology in perspective. Innovation and 'Tradition' Because PowerPC will mean a major leap in performance for Macintosh, the technology seems destined to create some confusion before it reaches products in mid-1994. The first thing to understand about PowerPC is that while it will deliver a big boost to Macintosh, it will also stay true to an Apple tradition: compatibility. PowerPC will run on System 7. Mac-intosh users will not switch to UNIX or any other operating system. Today's Macintosh applications will still run, though in many cases faster. And new software written for PowerPC will deliver peak performance - and probably even create new uses for personal computers. According to Jim Gable, product line marketing manager for PowerPC, engineers are determined to make the technology fully compatible with today's Macintosh. ''Some people may not even notice differences with PowerPC,'' said Gable. ''You'll boot up and see the finder, double click Mac applications and they'll run. The same stuff will be in the system folder. I don't know what to call it but a Macintosh.'' Pooling industry resources PowerPC leverages the talents of major players in the computer industry. For example, it combines Motorola's superior background in microprocessor design with IBM's advanced semiconductor fabrication techniques. It creates a broad industry standard, initially shared by Apple and IBM platforms. Unlike today's RISC chips, which are geared to the smaller workstation market, it targets the millions of buyers of personal computers. Each new generation of microprocessors has dramatically upped the ante for investors, and PowerPC is no exception. But by sharing the investment among three major industry players, PowerPC has garnered sufficient resources to develop several RISC processors at the same time. Engineers from Apple, IBM, and Motorola are collaborating on the designs. Introducing Power PC Initially, PowerPC will appear in mid-range and high-end Macintosh systems. But a key element in Apple's plans is to bring RISC to lower end products. This will mean, for example, that many advanced applications will become available to the K-12 market. PowerPC should follow a trend well established in the personal computer industry: as new technologies gain wider acceptance, the market grows, prices drop, and the entire line gets a power boost. Gable believes User Groups will be among the first to understand the true implications of PowerPC. Even now, early feedback from User Groups is helping the PowerPC team communicate better about the technology. And when PowerPC reaches the marketplace User Groups will be the key to training users and refining the technology. Reprinted rom the September/October 1993 issue of Quick Connect, the Apple Newsletter for User Groups. For more information on the PowerPC and PowerPC software check out the November issue of MacWorld Magazine, pages 32-34. - Ed.
Copyright © october, 1993 by reprinted from Quick Connect