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Acorn Computer
Risc PC

In April 1994, Acorn announced the release of the second generation of ARM machines – the Acorn RISC PC 600. Code named the Medusa project, this was set to replace the then ailing flagship A5000 machine.

As the name suggests, one of the main features of this computer was that it could run both Acorn and IBM-PC software side by side. This was achieved by a second CPU slot that could accept a daughter board with a PC CPU, such as a 486 or 586. This second processor then had shared access with the primary CPU to all the system resources. No more CPU intensive software PC emulation required!

As well as the second processor, other major enhancements included an updated video controller with the option for dedicated video RAM. The graphics chip in previous Archimedes range machines had shared the system memory with the rest of the computer which often proved to be a bottle neck without true DMA. Now the video controller could have video memory of it’s own, removing the bottle neck.

The system data bus was doubled in size to 32bits wide, and the MEMU and IOC chips were combined to create the IOMD20. This resulted in much better overall I/O, yet another bottle neck removed from previous machines. The system memory was also upgraded to a maximum of 256MB and the memory bus was designed to use the more widely available EDO SIMM’s.

A unique feature of the RISC PC was its case. This came in the form of the base holding the motherboard and power supply, a mid section for mounting one 3.5" device, one 5.25" device and two single width expansion cards, and then a lid. The magic was that you could add up to 8 slices at any time, giving you a very easily expandable computer, and all held together with clips and springs negating the need for a screwdriver. Very neat.

There were 2 other Acorn RISC PC's. The RISC PC 700 was released July 1995 and the RISC PC-2 was much publicised by Acorn and then dramatically cancelled at the last minute.

Thanks to Paul Hadfield for his kind help.

Please consider donating your old computer / videogame system to or one of our partners from anywhere in the world (Europe, America, Asia, etc.).


Hi. I use a riscpc600. The canon bjc 2100. Has just died any advice on what I should replace it with. Presumably I can pick something up on ebay

Sunday 29th May 2016
Douglas Piper

i want one

Friday 20th August 2010

To add my two pence worth and expand on the main article. After the Risc PC 700 released in July 1995 with a 40 Mhz Arm 7 CPU, there was a "Strongarm" Risc PC released in September 1996 with either a 202 or 233 Mhz Digital Strongarm CPU and RISC OS 3.70. Strongarm CPU cards can be fitted in any Risc PC.

There are also the 233 and 300 Mhz Strongarm-based Kinetic upgrades by Castle Technology which have their own onboard memory augmenting the RAM installd on the motherboard. This goes some way towards reducing the impact of the slow front-side bus.

Acorn may have long since gone, but the RISC PC appears to be a hardy little beast (or big depending on the number of case slices you have) RISC OS has been developed beyond 3.7, there is now 4.x in ROM which can be softloaded with version 6.20 which is available from Risc OS LTD.

I have just succeded in getting my RPC on the internet! Of all the retro/old systems I have from its era, the RPC is perhaps the most expandable, and certainly the most versatile.

Unlike a few years ago there are a few emulators (free and commercial) around for both classic Risc OS and 4.x - current.

Sunday 27th June 2010
Andrew (Glasgow (UK))


MANUFACTURER  Acorn Computer
TYPE  Professional Computer
ORIGIN  United Kingdom
YEAR  1994
KEYBOARD  Full 102 Key PS/2 PC style
CPU  ARM 610
CO-PROCESSOR  Choice of IBM-PC CPU’s including 486/586
RAM  4 MB (Up to 256 MB)
ROM  4 MB containing most of the OS
GRAPHIC MODES  Numerous - 1280 x 1024 at 256 colours, 800 x 600 16M colours
COLORS  Full 24bit 16M colours (video memory permiting)
SOUND  16bit stereo 8 voice synthesiser (PC sound blaster compatible)
SIZE / WEIGHT  35.5 (W) x 38.5 (D) x 12 (H) cm
I/O PORTS  Parallel, RS232, 2 x PS/2, VGA, 3.5mm sound jack, single width expansion slots (two per ‘slice’)
BUILT IN MEDIA  3.5'' floppy disk, 3.5'' IDE hard disk, CD-ROM
OS  RISC OS 3.5 (mainly in ROM, aditional resources on hard disk)
POWER SUPPLY  Built-in switching power supply unit
PRICE  From around £1200

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