System Initialization (SGI Mips)

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At boottime, a SGI system will load the ARCS firmware which then initializes basic hardware (such as the framebuffer, serial ports, keyboard, and disks), test system functionality and optionally loads a primary bootloader or kernel. Otherwise, it gives the user a graphical menu if a keyboard has been attached.

The ARCS firmware was made in both 32 bit and 64 bit versions. The 32 bit versions are loosely based on the ARC firmware specification, but as with all ARC systems there were several deviations. The differences between the 32 bit and 64 bit version are not well documented. A system with a 64 bit processor does not necessarily have a 64 bit firmware - the Power Indigo 2, Indigo 2 R10000, Origin, Onyx 2, and Octane are 64 bit ARCS, for example, but the Indy, which has a 64 bit processor, runs a 32 bit version of ARCS.

The 32 bit and early 64 bit versions of the ARCS firmware expect a boot payload in ECOFF format, an extended variant of COFF. Later 64 bit versions of the firmware (as well as a later 32 bit firmware for the R5000 Indy) will also accept ELF binaries.

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