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:
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:
The ARCS system is loosely compliant with the Advanced RISC Computing (ARC) standard, promulgated by the Advanced Computing Environment consortium in the early 1990s. In another sense, the ARC standard is based on SGI's ARCS, which was used as a basis for generating the ARC standard itself, although ARC calls for a little-endian system while ARCS system is big-endian on all MIPS-based systems. Despite various inconsistencies between the two, both SGI's ARCS implementations and the ARC standard share many commonalities (such as device naming, calling conventions, etc.).
Most of the computers which use the ARCS firmware are based on the MIPS line of microprocessors. But, the SGI Visual Workstation series, which is based on the Intel Pentium III, also uses ARCS. The Visual Workstation series is the only commercially produced Intel 80386-compatible system which used an ARCS firmware, rather than the traditional PC BIOS used in most Intel 386-lineage machines.
A list of product lines which use the ARCS console includes: