Since Apple switched to Intel chips in the mid-2000s, Motorola’s PowerPC chips and the PowerPC instruction set (ISA) architecture they used have largely fallen apart. While it is true that niche applications like supercomputing still use the Power ISA on other non-Apple hardware, the days of personal computing with PowerPC are largely over, unless you always try. desperately to keep your Power Mac G5 out of the dump or replay Twilight Princess. Fortunately for enthusiasts, the Power ISA is now open source and this group worked on an open source laptop based on this architecture.
Although development is underway and there are no end user products yet, the progress made by this group is promising. They have completed their PCB designs and schematics and have a working BOM including a Slimbook chassis. There are also prototypes with a T2080RDB development kit and an NXP T2080 processor, although they do not yet run on the intended hardware. Although it is still in its infancy, there are some promising videos (linked below) that show the prototypes running smoothly under the auspices of the Debian distribution which is specially designed for Power ISA.
We are excited to see work continuing on this project, as Power ISA has a number of advantages over x86 in performance, ARM when considered non-proprietary, and even RISC. -V because it is older and better understood. If you want a more in-depth comparison between all of these ISAs, our own [Maya Posch] covered this topic in detail as well as IBM’s original decision to open the Power ISA as open source.