PowerPC Development

In the late 1980s, I worked on a RISC 801 workstation and later on IBM AIX workstations, based on the RS6000 chipset, before the Apple/ IBM/ Motorola (AIM) alliance mapped out the PowerPC architecture. They were not particularly fast for their price tag, plus IBM seemed to be their own worst enemy at the time. There were attempts by IBM at a low-cost PowerPC to challenge the Intel x86 based PC, but nothing much came of it. Apple launched the PowerPC range, which took a while for software to be ported across from the 680x0 range. A couple of years later, I was fortunate to be given a 64-bit Apple G5 for my office workstation—an absolute pleasure!

The embedded work up to 1999 had been disappointing to be honest. The M68000 did not have a debug port, the much hyped “RISC is cheaper!” never materialised—MIPS, SGI, DEC, HP, Sun and others never delivered on their low-cost promises. On the desktop, the x86 eventually took care of most of them.

PowerPC became really interesting for embedded use when Motorola (later to become Freescale) produced highly integrated communications devices. For the desktop, IBM was defining a bus; multi-master, cache coherent with snooping, the 604, then the 603, etc. The bus was not simple at all (from an embedded viewpoint). The Freescale PowerPC offerings filled most of the holes that many other vendors could not:

Most importantly; two customers were willing to pay for PowerPC development.