PowerPC vector unit combats MMX utility

PowerPC vector unit combats MMX utility
Tom Foremski
Motorola is expanding the PowerPC microprocessor architecture with the addition of a 128-bit vector unit.
Dubbed Altivec, the technology is the first major extension of the PowerPC architecture since it was introduced seven years ago. It is Motorola’s answer to Intel’s MMX instruction set and the vector unit operates concurrently with the microprocessor’s integer and floating point units.
Like MMX, Altivec boosts processing of multimedia operations but it also adds support for networking and telephony applications. The technology was developed with help from Apple Computer, which will use Altivec enabled microprocessors in a new line of systems to be introduced in early 1999.
Altivec uses a single instruction multiple data architecture with 32, 128-bit registers. It will appear in Motorola’s G4 microprocessors, expected by the end of this year.


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