Advanced RISC Computing Specification

Advanced RISC Computing

not to be confused with Advanced RISC Machines

Advanced RISC Computing (ARC) is a specification promulgated by a defunct consortium of computer manufacturers (the Advanced Computing Environment project), setting forth a standard MIPS RISC-based computer hardware and firmware environment.

Although ACE went defunct, and no computer was ever manufactured which fully complied with the ARC standard, nonetheless the ARC system still exerts a widespread legacy in that all Microsoft Windows NT-based operating systems (such as Windows XP) used ARC conventions for naming boot devices before Windows Vista.

Further, SGI uses a modified version of the ARC firmware (which it calls ARCS) in its systems. All SGI computers which run IRIX 6.1 or later (such as the Indy, Octane, etc.) boot from an ARCS console (which uses the same drive naming conventions as Windows, accordingly).

In addition, most of the various RISC-based computers designed to run Windows NT used versions of the ARC boot console to boot NT. Among these computers were:

  • MIPS R4000-based systems such as the MIPS Magnum workstation
  • all DEC Alpha-based machines with a PCI bus designed prior to the end of support for Windows NT Alpha in September 1999 (the Alpha ARC firmware was also known as AlphaBIOS)
  • most Windows NT-capable PowerPC computers (such as the IBM RS/6000 40P).

It was also predicted that Intel IA-32-based computers would adopt the ARC console, although only SGI ever marketed such IA-32-based machines with ARC firmware (namely, the SGI Visual Workstation series, which went on sale in 1999).

Products complying (to some degree) with the ARC standard include:

External links

  • Linux-MIPS (ARC) article

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