PowerPC 603 75MHz

A 75MHz PowerPC 603 processor.

PowerPC (Performance Optimization With Enhanced RISC – Performance Computing, sometimes abbreviated as PPC) is a Reduced instruction set computing microprocessor architecture used in Pippin consoles, which were derived from Apple Computer's Power Macintosh line.

PowerPC and the PippinEdit

Pippin motherboard

A Pippin motherboard with a 66MHz PowerPC 603 processor underneath a heat sink.

On May 15, 1996, Motorola announced at the Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles that Bandai Digital Entertainment had selected the PowerPC 603 processor for the Pippin @WORLD console.[1] The Japanese version of the console, the Pippin Atmark, had launched in March 1996 with the same processor.[2]

Pippin consoles were powered by a 66MHz version of the PowerPC 603, running a streamlined version of Macintosh operating system 7.5.2. This allowed hobbyists with access to developer ROMs to modify Pippins to run standard Mac software of the era.[3] The Power Macintosh 5200 LC and 6200 were the only other computers from Apple to use the original PowerPC 603 processor like the Pippin, though running at 75MHz. The 603 was designed to be power-efficient, but its very small L1 cache impeded emulation of 68K code, which still made up a significant part of Mac OS at the time. Subsequent models of the Power Macintosh 5000 and 6000 series featured newer PowerPC 603e or 603ev processors with larger caches and higher clock speeds.[4]

PowerPC after the PippinEdit

Other Macintosh clone manufacturers, such as Pioneer, overshadowed the Pippin by introducing faster PowerPC 604-based systems in 1996 and 1997.[5][6] By 1997, Steve Jobs returned to Apple as interim CEO and cancelled the Pippin and clone licensing programs to return the struggling company to profitability.[7] In May 1998, Jobs introduced the PowerPC G3-based iMac, which became a breakout success for Apple.[8] Some of the technologies from the abandoned Pippin 2.0 spec, such as Firewire (IEEE 1394) and DVD-ROM,[9] were incorporated into the iMac DV, which was released in October 1999.[10] The last PowerPC processor to be used by Apple was the G5 before Apple began its transition to Intel processors in 1996.[11]


  1. Motorola PowerPC microprocessor drives Bandai's Pippin-based @World, BusinessWire. 1996-05-15.
  2. Bandai adopts direct sales model for Atmark Pippin, Computer Business Review. 1996-03-18.
  3. Hacking the Pippin by Phil Beesley, Vintage Macintosh. 2007-10-22. Archived 2017-08-17.
  4. CPUs: PowerPC 603 and 603e by Daniel Jansen, Low End Mac. 2014-06-24.
  5. Mac World EXPO 1996 (Japanese) by Takayuki Nakano, Web.targz. 2004. Accessed 2019-02-06.
  6. Macworld Tokyo: Of Cameras and Macs by Chuck and Linda Shotton, Tidbits. 1997-03-03.
  7. For the good of the company? Five Apple products Steve Jobs killed by Casey Johnston, Ars Technica. 2011-08-25.
  8. #1 Temporal Loop - Birth of the iMac by Thomas Hormby, The Mac Observer. 2007-05-25.
  9. Options will make Pippin 2 a home, network computer by David Morgenstern, MacWeek vol.10-37. 1996-09-30. Archived 1996-12-20.
  10. October 1999: iMac, iMac DV, iMac DV Special Edition by Stephen Hackett, 512 Pixels. 2016-06-01.
  11. Apple Makes the Switch: iMac G5 vs. iMac Core Duo by Anand Lal Shimpi, AnandTech. 2006-01-30.
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