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hardware platform

Each hardware platform, or CPU family, has a unique machine language. All software presented to the computer for execution must be in the binary coded machine language of that CPU. Following is a list of the major hardware platforms that have been manufactured over the years. See platform.


 Platform  Manufacturer (Usage)

 x86       Intel, AMD, Cyrix (PCs)

 Itanium   Intel

 68K       Motorola (earlier Macs)

 VAX       Digital's mini series

 S/360     IBM mainframe

 S/370     IBM mainframe

 S/390     IBM mainframe

 AS/400    IBM midrange/System i

 S/36      IBM old mini/System/36

 Non-Stop  Tandem (fault tolerant)

 Unisys    Unisys mainframes

 PDP/11    Digital's 1st mini


 Platform  Manufacturer (Usage)

 ARM       ARM (phones, tablets, etc.)

 88000     Motorola (DG, Encore)

 MIPS      MIPS (SGI, Tandem, etc.)

 SPARC     Oracle (originally Sun)

 PA-RISC   HP (workstations, servers)

 Alpha     HP servers

 PowerPC   Apple, IBM, Motorola

 i860      Intel (Stratus)


A hardware and/or software architecture that serves as a foundation or base. The term originally dealt with hardware and often still refers to only a CPU model or computer family. For example, the x86 PC is the world's largest desktop computer platform. The terms "platform" and "environment" are used interchangeably. See multiplatform, hardware platform and environment.

An Operating System Platform
An operating system often implies the CPU hardware. For example, when an application "runs on the Windows platform," it means that the program has been compiled into the x86 machine language and runs under Windows. It implies x86 because Windows has run on x86 machines for decades. However, it briefly ran on ARM CPUs with Windows RT, and as of 2018, Windows once again runs on ARM (see Windows 10 ARM).

The Mac operating system (macOS) means Intel x86 hardware, although in the past, it ran on PowerPC and Motorola 68000 CPUs. The Android platform means Android OS and ARM CPUs, while Apple's mobile platform runs the iOS operating system on ARM (see ARM chips).

With Unix, hardware is not implied. Unix applications run on almost every CPU family and are compiled into the machine language of that hardware. The phrase "the xyz app runs on Unix" typically implies multiple CPUs. See Unix.

Platforms Provide Interfaces
An application can also be a platform if it is a base for other programs. For example, Web browsers accept third-party plug-ins, and the browser application becomes a platform to interface with. Any software can be said to be a platform that provides a set of rules and codes that applications are written to interact with. See application framework and online platform.

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