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Feel the power

Why the PowerPC is well suited to single board computers. By Barbara Schmitz.

A PowerPC processor on a VMEbus platform is widely used in embedded applications. This is understandable, as VMEbus solutions are mainly used in demanding industrial and in most military applications.

PowerPC processors are ideal for such use, offering some advantages over Pentium architectures including low power consumption and long life. The real time operating systems running on PowerPC – such as VxWorks, OS-9 or QNX – are also optimised for high reliability. PowerPCs also suit applications that require long term availability.

But one aspect not always taken into account is price/performance: the ratio between clock rate and price, which forms an exponential curve. While price is attractive in the lower to medium performance range, it rises disproportionately with performance. PowerPCs may not offer the same MHz and MIPS performance as Pentiums, but many industrial applications are price, rather than performance, critical.

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Graham Pitcher

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