Described by MacWorld as "The most important technical evolution of the Macintosh since the Mac II debuted in 1987", the Power Macintosh is the first computer to use the PowerPC CPU architecture, the flagship product of the AIM alliance. Existing software for the Motorola 68k processors of previous Macintoshes would not run on the PowerPC natively, so a Mac 68k emulator was included with System 7.1.2. The emulator provides good compatibility, at about two thirds of the speed of contemporary Macintosh Quadra machines.
The Power Macintosh replaced the Quadra, and was initially sold in the same enclosures. Across the next twelve years, the Power Macintosh evolved through a succession of enclosure designs, a rename to "Power Mac", five major generations of PowerPC chips, and a great deal of press coverage, design accolades, and controversy about performance claims. The Power Mac was discontinued as part of the Mac transition to Intel processors announced in 2005, making way for its replacement, the Mac Pro.
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