NASA’s Nuclear-Powered Mars Rover Curiosity Essentially Has The Same Brain As A Bondi Blue iMac G3

NASA’s Nuclear-Powered Mars Rover Curiosity Essentially Has The Same Brain As A Bondi Blue iMac G3

Here’s an interesting little factoid for you. The Curiosity rover — which landed last night on Mars, remote controlled by a team of NASA scientists armed with MacBook Pros — runs on a RAD750 radiation-hardened single board computer.

This computer, in turn, is based on the IBM PowerPC 750 CPU, which Intel first introduce on November 10, 1997. This CPU was used by Apple in many computers in the late 1990s, including the original iMac.

As one insightful redditor notes: “Curiosity is essentially a 2-CPU Power Macintosh G3 with some nifty peripherals and one HELL of a UPS.”

  • goodevirginian

    Slight correction: the PowerPC product family was designed by IBM (not Intel) and manufactured by Motorola. Intel played no role in this product (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PowerPC)

  • Michael O’Morah

    The New iGrok!

  • Chuck Banas

    Hard to believe that the Deputy Editor of Cult of Mac thinks that Intel had anything to do with the PowerPC chip, which was of course an Apple/Motorola/IBM collaboration.

  • johncoles

    I have one of those in my bedroom, the iMac not the Rover.

  • James Barnette

    you would think that 250 million would at least get a MacPro’s guts in there. I mean even a modern Atom CPU would have been better.

  • Tallest_Skil

    you would think that 250 million would at least get a MacPro’s guts in there. I mean even a modern Atom CPU would have been better.

    Except you can’t radiation-harden a computer of that nature for less than dozens of billions of dollars.

  • digloo

    The PowerPC CPU was manufactured by Motorola for IBM, although I seem to recall that some other company build a rad-hardened version of it for military use (probably Rockwell). It was basically an RS6000-on-a-chip. Intel had nothing at all to do with it. How the heck can you guys not know that?

  • tcarlson

    A much better post on this subject is at…

    http://www.lowendmac.com/lab/12lab/macs-in-space.html

About the author

John BrownleeJohn Brownlee is a Contributing Editor. He has also written for Wired, Playboy, Boing Boing, Popular Mechanics, VentureBeat, and Gizmodo. He lives in Boston with his wife and two parakeets. You can follow him here on Twitter.

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