Remember that new rover NASA landed on Mars recently? Apparently the Perseverance rover is running on a modified PowerPC 750 processor of the kind used in the original iMac G3 from 1998 (via Gizmodo).
The PowerPC 750 is a single-core, 233MHz CPU that replaced the PowerPC 603e. Notable updates included a faster 60x system bus running at 66MHz, bigger L1 caches (32 KB instruction and 32 KB data), a second integer unit, and an enhanced floating point unit.
The particular processor used in Perseverance, Mars Science Lab (Curiosity), and the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, is a modified version of the 750. It’s called the RAD750 and it’s hardened against radiation. It’s manufactured by BAE Systems and can withstand 200,000 to 1,000,000 Rads and temperatures between −55 and 125 degrees Celsius (-67 and 257 degrees Fahrenheit). Each chip costs a bit over US$200,000.
As Matt Lemke, NASA’s deputy manager for Orion’s avionics, told The Space Review in 2014:
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.
Overall, it cost about US$2.4 billion to create Perseverance with another US$300 million for landing and operation.