Power 6/32

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3D rendering by a Power 6/32 in Young Sherlock Holmes

The Power 6/32, code named Tahoe, from Computer Consoles Incorporated, was the CPU for a supermini; the CSRG ported 4.3 BSD to it, in the '4.3 BSD Tahoe' release.

Although it was not very successful commercially (in part because CCI exited the computer business shortly after it was released), it was very influential as the first non-VAX machine that BSD UNIX was ported to. The Tahoe did help separate out a lot of VAX-specific code from the base, allowing BSD to become more portable, but the Power 6/32 machine quickly disappeared off the market, and not much is known about them.

It was re-sold (under other names) by several vendors: Unisys sold the 6/32 under the name 'Unisys 7000/40', using their own bastardized BSD+SYSV Unix. (Kuwait Petroleum in Denmark had one of them.) ICL had the 'Clan 7'. Harris had the HCX-5, -7, and -9 models (for which a bit survives - below), running the SysV derivative HCX/UX.

Pixar used a Power 6/32 to render the stained-glass knight in the 1985 movie Young Sherlock Holmes.


The Power 6/32 CPU was implemented in TTL; it had a clock rate of 100nS.

All that I can find out about them is this table from http://www.dunnington.u-net.com/public/dhrystone.c (archive link)

 *----------------DHRYSTONE VERSION 1.0 RESULTS BEGIN--------------------------
 * TYPE                         SYSTEM                          NO REG  REGS
 * --------------------------   ------------    -----------     ---------------
 * CCI POWER 6/32               COS(SV+4.2)     cc              7500    7800
 * CCI POWER 6/32               POWER 6 UNIX/V  cc              8236    8498
 * CCI POWER 6/32               4.2 Rel. 1.2b   cc              8963    9544
 * VAX 11/780   -               UNIX 5.2        cc              1515    1562
 * VAX 11/780   -               UNIX 4.3bsd     cc              1646    1662

Which may give some indication on the initial reasons why the Power 6/32 was chosen as the successor to the VAX by CSRG.

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