NASA’s rover Perseverance, which reached the Red Planet on February 18, is powered by the PowerPC 750 processor, the same chip that is inside the iconic 1998 iMac G3.
According to New Scientist, the Mars Perseverance rover uses the RISC CPUs that Apple went all in on before switching to Intel. The iMac G3 was colorful, and it ultimately saved Apple from bankruptcy.
The processor inside the Perseverance rover is a RAD750, a radiation-hardened variant of the PowerPC 750 that is made by BAE Systems. It packs just 10.4 million transistors and operates at up to 200MHz. Critically, it can withstand up to a million rads of radiation and operating temperatures between -55C and 125C.
Because Mars’ atmosphere is different than what is found here on Earth, and it is further away from the Sun, anything sent to the planet is susceptible to damage from radiation and extreme temperatures.
The RAD750 is also a proven performer, having been used successfully in more than 150 spacecraft.