This article started life when I was asked to write a comparison of x86 and PowerPC CPUs for work. We produce PowerPC based systems and are often asked why we use PowerPC CPUs instead of x86 so a comparison is rather useful. While I have had an interest in CPUs for quite some time but I have never explored this issue in any detail so writing the document proved an interesting exercise. I thought my conclusions would be of interest to OSNews readers so I've done more research and written this new, rather more detailed article. This article is concerned with the technical differences between the families not the market differences.
History and Architectural Differences
The x86 family of CPUs began life in 1978 as the 8086, an extension to the 8 bit 8080 CPU. It was a 16bit CISC (Complex instruction Set Computing) processor. In the following year the 8088 was introduced which was used in the original IBM PC. It is this computer which lead to todays PCs which are still compatible with the 8086 instruction set from 1978.
The PowerPC family began life with the PowerPC 601 in 1993, the result of a collaboration started in 1991 between Apple, IBM and Motorola. The family was designed to be a low cost RISC (Reduced Instruction Set Computing) CPU, it was based on the existing IBM POWER CPU used in the RS/6000 workstations so it would have an existing software base.
News source: OS News