PowerPC in Space

Discussion in 'PowerPC Macs' started by Ih8reno, Dec 8, 2014.

  1. SandboxGeneral Moderator emeritus

    SandboxGeneral

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  2. repentix macrumors regular

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    #3
    It's nice to hear that PowerPC''s are seen as reliable enough for important missions like that one.
     
  3. PowerMac G4 MDD macrumors 68000

    PowerMac G4 MDD

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    #4
    Wow, that made the rest of my day! Did you all know that the Xbox 360 has a PowerPC processor? So does the Wii. As for the Wii U, it has some branched-off evolution of PPC processor, but it still counts.
     
  4. bunnspecial macrumors 603

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  5. jbarley macrumors 68040

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  6. velocityg4 macrumors 68040

    velocityg4

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    #8
    I wonder if it's because they started planning for this back in 2004. As I understand it NASA sticks with whatever computer tech is available when planning begins. Due to the amount of testing, debugging, reinforcing, &c which needs to be done. It would wreak havoc in planning if something changed.

    Although faster G4 chips were available. Perhaps they weren't seen as reliable or were too power hungry.
     
  7. jbarley macrumors 68040

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    #9
    This exactly the explanation I got in regards to the Mars Rover.
    Both for the hardware and software.
     
  8. PowerMac G4 MDD macrumors 68000

    PowerMac G4 MDD

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    #10
    They don't need super fast processors to run these things, and I guess they wanted something robust. It said they also enhanced the components so they would be more resilient to shock and such.
     
  9. Intell macrumors P6

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    #11
    The Hubble Space Telescope when launched didn't have any onboard CPU. It was upgraded on one of the first few service missions to contain a radiation hardened Intell 486 so that is could process images taken. It's still up there, orbiting around and computing data at lovely 1990's pace.
     
  10. orestes1984 macrumors 65816

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    #12
    A lot of NASA's hardware is early 486 vintage, simply because it works and it processes what it needs to do. These systems don't have high overheads and are often very task specific so they don't need extra overheads for the nuances of pretty graphics or games of solitaire they just need to work.

    There are some older missile silos and such littered across the American countryside that are running off even older technology like teletype terminals and such with the most expandability being a 5.25" magnetic disk.

    They are task specific, mission critical machines, they're not a computer as you or I know it.
     
  11. cocacolakid macrumors 65816

    cocacolakid

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    #13
    OP, I meant to post the other day how much I enjoyed that article. Thank you.
     
  12. Ih8reno thread starter macrumors 65816

    Ih8reno

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    #14
    My pleasure
     
  13. Daniël Oosterhuis macrumors 6502a

    Daniël Oosterhuis

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    #15
    I know this is a very old topic I'm bumping, but it's about the same topic so why not :)
    The Mars 2020 Rover is going to use mostly the same hardware as the Curiosity Rover, so it's yet again a RAD750 based computer. I really like that, despite PowerPC's death in consumer use after Nintendo finally dropped the architecture in favor of ARM with the Switch, the architecture of our old Macs lives on in space, the final frontier :)
     
  14. AphoticD macrumors 65816

    AphoticD

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    #16
    You certainly wouldn’t want to put an Intel CPU out beyond the stars. The Management Engine could pose a backdoor security risk... Alien hackers could possibly hijack earth’s entire Intel userbase to take control on a global supercomputer scale for their own Martian parallel computing purposes.
     
  15. Daniël Oosterhuis macrumors 6502a

    Daniël Oosterhuis

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    #17
    To be fair, the very first rover sent to Mars by NASA, the Sojourner, was an Intel, but it was based on the ancient 8085 chip, back in 1997. It lost communications after 85 days, but that's still impressive as the planned mission with it only consisted of 7 days, which means it outlasted its purpose. The Pathfinder lander that was launched with the rover did have an BAE Systems and IBM developed RAD6000 CPU, which is POWER1 based and similar to the PowerPC 601 chip. The following two Rovers, Spirit and Opportunity were given that BAE/IBM chip as well, and while Spirit sadly got stuck and NASA has given up on attempting to free it, Opportunity still bravely soldiers on, nearly fourteen years after landing. Other space probes and Mars landers have been equipped with the RAD6000 and RAD750 processors as well. It's no surprise NASA is still using what in our eyes is "obsolete", as these chips cost a LOT of money to develop, and they still do what they need to do. Just one single board computer with a RAD750 on it from BAE Systems will run you $200k.
     
  16. Dronecatcher macrumors 68020

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    #18
    Hasn't that already happened ;)
     
  17. ziggy29 macrumors 6502

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    #19
    Certainly I'm not the only one thinking "Piiiiigs in Spaaaaaaaaace!" here.
     

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