Powerpc | Hackaday


Since Apple switched to Intel chips in the mid-2000s, Motorola’s PowerPC chips and the PowerPC instruction set architecture (ISA) 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 has been working 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 initial decision to open the Power ISA as open source.

continue reading “Open Hardware Laptop Built On Power PC ISA”

Apple computers will switch from Intel chips to their own ARM-based design. One interesting thing about Apple as a company is that it never felt the need to bind to a particular system architecture or ISA. While a company like Microsoft has mainly tied its fortunes to Intel’s x86 architecture, and IBM, Sun, HP and other giants have preferred vertical integration, Apple is currently moving towards its fifth system architecture for its computers since the inception of the company.

What makes this latest change perhaps unique, however, is that instead of Apple relying on an external vendor for processors and peripheral integrated circuits, they are now targeting a vertical integration approach. Although the ARM ISA is licensed to Apple from Arm Holdings, the “Apple Silicon” design used in Apple’s ARM processors is their own, produced by Apple’s own engineers and produced by on-demand foundries. from Apple.

In this article, I’d like to look back at Apple’s architectural decisions over the decades and how they practically made Apple’s transition to vertical integration.

continue reading “Modification of system architectures and complexity of Apple’s butterfly approach to ISAs”

Part of the reason people can’t stop talking about Meltdown / Specter is the fact that all of the individual pieces have been in sight for a long time. When everyone saw how it all turned out last week, a lot of people (and not necessarily even security-oriented people) slapped each other on the forehead, “Why didn’t he I did you see that earlier? Speculative execution has been causing headaches for a long time. [Bruce Dawson] tells one of those stories he lived in 2005. (Disclaimer: Ads on the page may automatically play video.)

It centers around the Xbox 360’s custom PowerPC processor. Among the customizations to this chip was the addition of an instruction designed to improve memory performance. This instruction was a hack that violated certain guarantees of memory consistency held by the base design, so they knew from the start that it had to be used very carefully. Worse yet, the debugging issues in this area were painful. When memory consistency goes wrong, the code visible in the debugger may not be the actual code that crashed.

Since we’re talking about the dark side of speculative execution, you can already guess how the story ends: no matter how carefully it was used, the special instruction continued to cause problems when it was released. executed in a speculative manner outside of constrained conditions. Extensive testing has proven that instructions that are not executed cause crashes. It sounds more like superstition than engineering. As far as he can remember, it ended up causing more problems than it was worth and was never used in any of the Xbox 360 titles that shipped.

[Main image source: AnandTech article on Xbox 360 hardware]

snes9x

Gizmodo has done us all a favor by going through many forum posts and condensing them into a how-to guide to installing Ubuntu on your Playstation 3. It covers some of the caveats associated with this route. You should back up all your game data before you start because the system repartitions the player. Ubuntu installs without any issues, but since the cell processor is a PowerPC architecture, that means not everything has been ported to it. You need to install a few items for the Sixaxis controller to be recognized as a joystick. Super Nintendo SNES9X emulator is available and working, for the most part. It doesn’t support full screen and cries if you reconfigure the buttons.

Supporting developers through alternative operating systems is nothing new to Sony. Along with the original Playstation, they released Net Yaroze, a consumer development kit. The Playstation 2 was the first time they officially supported Linux on a game console (our first Linux machine). New to the Playstation 3 was to integrate Linux support with every console; no specialized hardware is needed. Unfortunately, they are not as open with the PSP.

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