The PPC 603e: from Macs to outer space

Performa 5200The second generation of PowerPC processors made its debut in april 1995 with the launch of the all-in-one Power Macintosh 5200 LC (also known under the Performa moniker). The computer sported a brand new PPC 603 chip with a 75 MHz clock frequency, an 8 KB first level cache and a 37,5 MHz bus.

The 5200 – together with the more powerful 6200, launched in May 1995 – was one of the few Macintosh models powered by the PowerPC 603 in its original version. In fact, it became soon evident that the reduced cache in the processor didn’t get along with the Mac’s operative system at all. The Mac OS at the time was mostly made up of code for 68000 processors, and it was being emulated. With not enough cache, the performance was abysmal earning a bad reputation to the first Macs with the 603 processor.

The problem was solved creating a variant of the processor, the PPC 603e. It had a larger, 16 KB cache (just like the PPC 601 had) and it was made to run faster, speeding it up from the original 120 MHz to 200 and later even to 300 MHzs. Such features made possible a much longer and broader use of the processor, including in laptops.

At the Macworld Expo in Boston in August 1995 Apple presented, among other things, the PowerBook 5300 and the PowerBook Duo 2300, two computers with opposing philosophies and target audiences, but sharing an almost identical core hardware. (more…)

Thursday 29 January 2015, 2:00 pm
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