I have some disc images that run only on PowerPC. I've heard a lot about PowerPC being popular back in the day, especially being used with older Apple computers. I don't hear much about them anymore, yet they are used in game consoles such as the Wii and Wii U.

Are PowerPC processors still used in desktop/home computers, or has Intel processors taken over? If I wanted to get a PowerPC computer, is there a place I can still get them? Or is the only option to use QEMU emulation?

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    What exactly are these "disk images" for. Just because two families of computers used them same family of processors doesn't mean they are compatible. Commented Jun 9, 2016 at 21:05
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    For example, I have PPC Debian images that I would like to boot and install just for experimental purposes. Commented Jun 9, 2016 at 21:06
  • Ask NASA :) qz.com/317406/… Commented Apr 22, 2020 at 10:46

6 Answers 6


PowerPC CPUs are still produced, mainly for embedded applications, e.g. the Qorivva MPC55xx MCUs.

As far as I'm aware, the only currently-produced (for some value of "produced") desktop computers using PowerPC processors are Amiga replacements: ACube Systems' AmigaOne 500 and A-EON Technology's AmigaOne X5000. Nowadays on the desktop it's pretty much all Intel/AMD, with a sprinkling of ARM.

The Power architecture lives on in IBM's POWER CPUs, the current iteration of which is the POWER10; but they're only available in (expensive, but very, very fast) IBM servers. The previous generation POWER9 processors are available in IBM servers, with the OpenPOWER9 variant being available in the Talos II workstation as well as some other third-party servers.

You should be able to find lots of PowerPC-based Apple computers second-hand, capable of running your discs (assuming the operating system is compatible).

If your disc images are for Macintosh-style computers, you could try running them with QEMU's PowerPC emulator. For more direct Mac OS on PowerPC emulation, you could also try PearPC or SheepShaver.

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    The last Apples are the G5 series. Still powerful machines, but support is fading fast. Commented Jun 9, 2016 at 21:03
  • Fading very fast, @JoeTaxpayer. Unless you need very specific PPC applications, a Raspberry Pi 3B+ might typically be faster than all except the last model G5 Quad. They're also very power-hungry, so cost quite a bit to run.
    – scruss
    Commented Jan 26, 2019 at 14:59
  • @scruss - I will admit to you, the last time I booted my G5 was probably when I wrote this comment. I have a small box of remaining VHS tape‘s. And my digitizer will only work on that computer. When those tapes are gone, it will probably be the end of the tape players as well as the computer. I have a room that looks like a shrine two apple computers going back almost 2 decades Commented Jan 26, 2019 at 15:10
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    Raptor sells Linux POWER9 desktops – raptorcs.com/content/BK1SD1/intro.html – expensive at USD 2850 (or more for the higher-end models), and you will get a much better x86 machine for the same amount of money – but for someone who really wants a PPC desktop it is an available option. Commented Apr 17, 2020 at 20:31
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    @Thorbjørn I know AIX requires IBM hardware, so any AIX-specific software has to run on IBM systems (and there is still quite a lot of AIX-specific software in a number of verticals). RHEL on POWER isn’t related to the acquisition, it’s been available for a long time (since at least RHEL 6 in 2011, and I suspect earlier than that). Commented Apr 22, 2020 at 12:45

Not a desktop PC, but the Nintendo Wii U is still manufactured and contains a Power PC processor.

Also the recently discontinued Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 consoles ran on Power PC too.

If you wanted to get a Power PC computer to run Linux on, you could potentially find an older generation Playstation 3 with older firmware on eBay, and use the OtherOS functionality which was removed in subsequent firmware updates.

  • I had already mentioned in my question that they are being used in game consoles such as Wii and the Wii U. Sounds like a lot of trouble to buy a game console just to run linux on it. Personally I would just stick with QEMU. Commented Jun 9, 2016 at 22:40
  • Retro Gamer : it was very viable to buy a large box of PS, run Linux and make them part of a beowulf type cluster. It would still be useful if not for the face that getting 200 PS2 which works and is dependable is.... Commented Apr 19, 2020 at 2:12
  • @RetroGamer Qemu will almost undoubtedly be slower than real hardware for quite a bit yet. Commented Sep 5, 2021 at 14:33

There are single board computers ("SBCs") available with Power architecture processors that could possibly double as desktop machines, e.g. this one has USB and can apparently be configured with a PCI Express port, which could be used to run a graphics card (although I suspect you'll need a PCI Express 1x graphics card to make it work -- I'm aware that Matrox make one of those; not sure if anyone else does). Price could be an issue too, as the primary customer of such things is apparently military/aerospace. But perhaps if you shop around you can find something a little more reasonably priced that can do it as well?

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    Every PCIe-x16 graphics card I've tried in a PCIe-x1 slot has worked well. You just don't get the maximum bandwidth (well, obviously)
    – pipe
    Commented Jun 9, 2016 at 23:02

You can run Rosetta (Apples PowerPC support on Intel platforms) on a Intel mac running Snow Leopard. You can now run Snow Leopard in a VM. That's a lot of hoops to run through, but might be worth it.

There is also http://sheepshaver.cebix.net/ but I have no idea how well it works.

The short answer is that your either going to have to find an old mac or emulate.

  • Isn't running Snow Leopard on a VM frowned upon? Commented Jun 9, 2016 at 21:08
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    My reading of the license is that you may run one copy on an Apple labeled (or Apple branded) computer. It doesn't mention VMs, but in my opinion an operating system running in a VM on an Apple labeled computer is running on an Apple labeled computer. An OS running in a VM on an HP computer is not running on an Apple labeled computer.
    – gnasher729
    Commented Jun 9, 2016 at 23:11
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    @RetroGamer Apple relaxed their licence to allow one client install of SnowLepord on a VM as long as your running it on a mac. discussions.apple.com/thread/4415010?tstart=0
    – coteyr
    Commented Jun 10, 2016 at 0:30

Are PowerPC processors still used in desktop/home computers, or has Intel processors taken over? If I wanted to get a PowerPC computer, is there a place I can still get them?

They have pretty much disappeared from personal computers. Due to the low production volume they can't compete with x86 or ARM CPUs. As a result nowadays they generally only exist in places where price is not an important factor like servers or workstations

If you're an enthusiast you can also buy development boards or separate CPUs/MCUs easily, although not as cheap as ARM boards

That said you might be able to buy a PowerPC laptop in the future since the Power Progress Community is building a GNU/Linux PowerPC notebook. If you want you can also contribute to their project

Disclaimer: I'm not affiliated with any of the above companies/groups


Power PC still essential to the US Mars program. Thanks to the fact it is radiation hardened 40x normal CPUs. Helps to avoid catastrophic loss of computing power due to cosmic ray interference.

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Good show here tells much more: https://youtu.be/AaZ_RSt0KP8

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    Why did you post the image twice?
    – JRN
    Commented Sep 5, 2021 at 13:11
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    the question is about PowerPC in desktop/home computers
    – phuclv
    Commented Sep 5, 2021 at 16:37
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    Radiation hardening is not a feature inherent to PowerPC, it's a feature inherent to ANY radiation hardened CPU.
    – Oskar Skog
    Commented Sep 7, 2021 at 6:15
  • @OskarSkog at least the wiki for rad hardened CPUs only enumerates versions of some older 8bits CPUs, the MILstd 1750 CPU and hardened versions of SPARC,Power,PowerPC and MIPS. Current version is a PowerPC processor serie with a lineup of performance (RAD5500.) Designing a radiation hardened CPU is expensive. Commented Jun 5, 2022 at 10:16

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