What Does PowerPC Mean?

The PowerPC is a CPU architecture based on reduced instruction-set computing (RISC) that was created by Apple, IBM and Motorola in 1991. The three companies formed an alliance known as AIM. The term PowerPC stands for performance optimization with enhanced RISC, otherwise known as performance computing.


PowerPC is also an evolving instruction set that has been renamed Power ISA since 2006 and lives on as a legacy architecture. PowerPC CPUs have been popularized in part by Apple due to their use in 1994-2006 workstation Macs, before Apple embraced Intel CPUs. However, the PowerPC was first used in IBM RS/6000 workstations, which ran a Unix-based operating system.

Techopedia Explains PowerPC

When the PowerPC microprocessor architecture was designed, it was created as an open standard architecture, and other companies were invited to build on top of it. RISC is based on a principle that the simplest computing instructions are the ones most frequently performed. However, CPUs have also been designed with more complicated instruction sets in mind, allowing for simpler and faster operations, and the ability to perform more instructions per clock speed.


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Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.