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Redirected from: Power Macintosh

Definition: Power Mac


A PowerPC-based Macintosh, officially known as the "Power Macintosh." Power Macs were introduced in 1994 and superseded the Motorola-based models, the first Macintosh platform. Power Macintosh models were designated first with numbers from 5200 to 9700 and then G3, G4 and G5.

The First Power Macs
What seems paltry today, the first Power Macs came with 8MB of RAM and used the 601 PowerPC CPU chip with clock speeds from 60 to 80 MHz. Over the years, the Power Macs dramatically increased in speed and capability. See PowerPC.

From Motorola to PowerPC
To support the transition from Motorola 68K CPUs to the PowerPC RISC chip, Apple created a "fat binary" disk that allowed applications to be distributed in both 68K and PowerPC formats.

Emulated applications typically ran slower in the foreign machine. However, Power Macs could emulate and run 68K applications faster, because the QuickDraw graphics engine ran native in the Power Mac (see QuickDraw).

From PowerPC to Intel x86
Introduced in 2003, the last Power Mac to use the PowerPC chip was the Power Mac G5. In 2006, Apple switched to Intel x86-based chips, the hardware platform chosen by IBM 25 years earlier for its PC line (see IBM PC). See G5, Mac Pro, Intel Mac, Macintosh and Apple.




An Early Power Mac
This early 6100/66 model ran at 66 MHz and used the 601, the first PowerPC chip. It came with 8MB of RAM. (Image courtesy of Apple Inc.)