NASA’s Perseverance Rover Is Using the Same Processor as 1998 iMac G3

BY Mahit Huilgol

Published 2 Mar 2021

Apple products have been around from more than two decades. Latest report claims Nasa’s Perseverance Rover is powered by PowerPC 750, the same chipset that also powered 1998 iMac G3.

Incidentally the PowerPC 750 was the last processor used by Apple before it switched to Intel in 1998. The 1998 iMac G3 specifications might sound like a joke today, but back then it was a powerful chip. For instance, the chipset featured a single-core processor clocked at 233MHz. To put things into perspective even an entry level smartphone today is more powerful than the iMac G3.

Mars Perseverance is making headlines after giving high-defination panoramic view of landing site and discovering a wind carved rock that resembles harbor seal. The Mars Perseverance Rover is made up of BAE system and the RAD750 (radiation resistant version) is designed to withstand high temperatures and equally high radiation levels. It is quiet possible that PowerPC 750 uses an advanced thermal management system that could cost as much as $200,000. Furthermore, the setup seems to be centered around ruggedness rather than speed.

Compared to the [Intel] Core i5 in your laptop, it’s much slower…it’s probably not any faster than your smartphone. But it’s not about the speed as much as the ruggedness and the reliability. I need to make sure it will always work.

Our Take

Like you even we were baffled as to why an old chipset was being used on Mars Perseverance Rover. NASA says reliability is very important as the setup needs to work all the time. Thus they employ older chips that are more reliable and speed is not a concern.

[via NewsScientist]