AIM alliance

AIM alliance

The AIM alliance was an alliance formed in September 1991 between Apple Computer, IBM and Motorola to create a new computing standard based on the PowerPC architecture. The stated goal of the alliance was to challenge the dominant Wintel computing platform with a new computer design and a next-generation operating system. It was thought that the CISC processors from Intel were an evolutionary dead-end in microprocessor design, and that since RISC was the future, the next few years were a period of great opportunity.

The CPU was the PowerPC, a single-chip version of IBM's POWER1 CPU. Both IBM and Motorola would manufacture PowerPC chips for this new platform. The computer architecture base was called CHRP (for Common Hardware Reference Platform) and later named PReP (for PowerPC Reference Platform). CHRP was in fact a barely-modified version of IBM's existing RS/6000 platform, changed only to support the new 60x bus style of the PowerPC.

Apple and IBM created two new companies called Taligent and Kaleida Labs as part of the alliance. Taligent was formed from a core team of Apple software engineers to create a next-generation operating system, code-named "Pink", to run on the platform. Kaleida was to create an object-oriented, cross-platform multimedia scripting language which would enable developers to create entirely new kinds of applications that would harness the power of the platform.

Efforts on the part of Motorola and IBM to popularize PReP/CHRP failed when Apple, IBM, and Taligent all failed to provide an operating system that could run on it and when Apple and IBM couldn't reach agreement on whether the reference design must or must not have a parallel port. Although the platform was eventually supported by several Unix flavours as well as Windows NT, these operating systems generally ran just as well on Intel-based hardware so there was little reason to use the PReP systems. The BeBox, designed to run BeOS, used some PReP hardware but as a whole was not compatible with the standard. Kaleida folded in 1995. Taligent was absorbed into IBM in 1998. Some CHRP machines shipped in 1997 and 1998 to no fanfare.

The PowerPC program was the one success that came out of the AIM alliance; Apple started using PowerPC chips in their Macintosh line starting in 1994. Almost every Mac featured a PowerPC processor from then until 2006, when they transitioned all their models to Intel processors, due to disappointment with the direction and performance of PowerPC development. The chips have also had success in the embedded market, and all three major seventh-generation video game consoles feature chipsets derived from the PowerPC architecture at their core.

See also

The Advanced Computing Environment group defined a competing "new PC" initiative known as Advanced RISC Computing (ARC), based on the MIPS architecture. The Windows NT original boot architecture was based on the ARC standards.

Power.org

Power.org was founded in 2004 by IBM and 15 partners with focus on develop, enable, promote and drive adoption of Power Architecture technology, i.e. PowerPC and POWER and applications based on it. Freescale joined in 2006 and today the consortium consists of over 40 companies and institutions.

References

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