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The PowerPC Architecture comprises three levels of standards:

  • PowerPC User Instruction Set Architecture (UISA), including the base user-level instruction set, user-level registers, programming model, data types, and addressing modes. This is referred to as Book I of the PowerPC Architecture.
  • PowerPC Virtual Environment Architecture, describing the memory model, cache model, cache control instructions, address aliasing, and related issues. While accessible from the user level, these features are intended to be accessed from within library routines provided by the system software. This is referred to as Book II of the PowerPC Architecture.
  • PowerPC Operating Environment Architecture, including the memory management model, supervisor-level registers, and the exception model. These features are not accessible from the user level. This is referred to as Book III of the PowerPC Architecture.

Book I and Book II define the instruction set and facilities available to the application programmer. Book III defines features, such as system-level instructions, that are not directly accessible by user Overview 1-5 applications.

The PowerPC Architecture is described in The PowerPC Architecture: A Specification for a New Family of RISC Processors. [ISBN: 1558603166]

The PowerPC Architecture provides compatibility of PowerPC Book I application code across all PowerPC implementations to help maximize the portability of applications developed for PowerPC processors. This is accomplished through compliance with the first level of the architectural definition, the PowerPC UISA, which is common to all PowerPC implementations.