Concept

Advanced Computing Environment

Résumé
The Advanced Computing Environment (ACE) was defined by an industry consortium in the early 1990s to be the next generation commodity computing platform, the successor to personal computers based on Intel's 32-bit instruction set architecture. The effort found little support in the market and dissolved due to infighting within the group and a lack of sales. The consortium was announced on the 9th of April 1991 by Compaq, Microsoft, MIPS Computer Systems, Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC), and the Santa Cruz Operation (SCO). Although the consortium's definition of the Advanced RISC Computing (ARC) specification, indicating the details of an "open and scalable" hardware platform based on the MIPS architecture, was a significant focus of the initiative, the "key force" behind it was said to be Compaq recognising that it needed to pursue a strategy with MIPS in order to compete in the emerging personal workstation market. A week prior to the ACE announcement, Compaq had entered into a relationship with Silicon Graphics Inc. (SGI) involving an investment in SGI, the payment of advance royalties, and a strategy to co-develop low-cost workstation systems targeting a price range of "about 8,000or8,000 or 7,000 for a really usable system". At the time it was widely believed that RISC-based systems would maintain a price/performance advantage over the ad hoc Wintel systems. However, it was also widely believed that Windows NT would quickly displace many other operating systems through the combined effects of a wide selection of software and the ease of building Wintel machines that supported it. ACE was formed to provide an alternative platform to Wintel, providing a viable alternative with the same advantages in terms of software support, and greater advantages in terms of performance. The environment standardized on two hardware platforms: a personal computer platform based on the Intel 80386 and 80486 processors, and a workstation platform based on the ARC specification.
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