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© 1997-2006
Gareth Knight
All Rights reserved

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What versions of the PowerPC are available?

PowerPC 601 & 601+

The 601 was the first PowerPC CPU to be developed as a result of the cooperation of Motorola, IBM, and Apple. The PowerPC was a fresh design, but owes a great deal to IBM's previously developed 'Power' RISC series. In particular, the 601 incorporated and modified the user-level POWER instructions. It has an eight-word instruction fetch bus from the cache, four-entry translation shadow buffer, and 32 bit general purpose registers. The memory management uses 52-bit virtual and 32-bit real addressing, four block address translation registers. It also has a 32 KB cache, 32-bit address bus, and 64-bit data bus, support for graphics coprocessor (such as a graphics card) and multiprocessor support. The fastest release of the chip was clocked at 100MHz.
The 601+ is basically the same as the 601, except for the implementation of a 05u CMOS 2.5V process, which effectively makes it go slightly faster and draw less power.

The PowerMac 601 machines were short-lived offering few advantages over the 68040 CPU used in most Macs of the time. Macintosh 68k emulation slowed the processor further, providing system performance equivalent to a 68030 Mac.

Machines that use it:
Apple PowerMac

PowerPC 602

Motorola adverts at the time, promoted the 602 as the perfect processor for 'low-cost home entertainment devices with audio/video, multimedia, or anything that has complex graphic requirements'. It is was developed for portable PPC markets, such as laptops and has gained some use in the embedded market. It is slightly slower than the 601, but does not require as much power.

Machines that use it:

3D0 M2 (unreleased)

PowerPC 603 and 603e

For the first time PowerMacs could execute 68k software faster than the 68040. The launch of the 603 PowerMacs resulted in the appearance of numerous game titles and high-end applications.

The 603 and 603e are low power units designed for desktop computers and notebooks. The 603 features a separate 8K instruction and data cache and executes up to five instructions in five parallel units- the fixed point, floating point, branch, system, load/store units. The PPC 603 uses 8k physically addressed instruction and data cache, whilst the 603e offers a 16k version. It also features dynamic power management, a processor clock multiplier of 1x, 1.5x, 2x. 2.5x, 3x, 3.5x, and 4x from the bus clock.
The PowerPC 603e is a higher performance 603 with a faster clock and larger cache. It was originally known as the 603+.

Machines that use it:

Amiga PowerUP accelerators, PowerMac Apple Pippin (China+Hong Kong only), BeBOX (discontinued), A/Box (canceled), The Sega SaturnUpgrade (unreleased).

PowerPC 604

The 604 and 604e are designed for complex processing tasks and is considerably faster than the 603. The processor is software and bus compatible with the 601, 603 and 603e processors. The 604e doubles the physically addressed instruction and data cache by using a 32k version for a greater speed increase.

Machines that use it:

Phase5 PowerUP accelerators, PowerMac, A/Box(canceled)

PowerPC G3

The G3 is a considerable improvement on the 604 design rendering a great deal of software incompatible. The developers of BeOS suffered due to a lack of information on porting their OS to the new processor. The AmigaG3 cards offer a number of improvements over previous versions, moving 68k processing into software, which in turn, reduces the cost of manufacture.

Machines that use it:

iMAC, PowerMac, AmigaOne

PowerPC  G4 "MAX"

No sooner had G3 been announced that G4 suddenly became the new standard. Released during 1999, the G4 processor is the most advanced version of the PowerPC so far. It consists of 10.5 million transistors, occupying 83 square millimeters, fabricated in a 0.2um process with copper interconnects. The G4 also includes the new "MaxBus" designed for bus clocks of 100MHz or over, and improved symmetric multiprocessing performance.
The G4 doubles the L2 cache of the PowerPC 750 (aka G3) including a 2Mb version and doubles the backside bus width to 128 bits. Other design improvements include the Altivec technology, a multimedia extension similar to Intel's MMX.

Machines that use it:

PowerMac, AMIRAGE K2.

External Links
PowerPC Architecture: A High-Performance Architecture with a History

 

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