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Apple announces Mac architecture transition from Intel to its own ARM chips, offers emulation path


Apple has just announced its plans to switch from Intel CPUs in Macs to silicon of its own design, based on the ARM architecture. This means that Apple is now designing its own chips for iOS devices and its Mac desktop and laptops. Apple said it will ship its first ARM Mac before the end of the year, and complete the Intel -> ARM transition within two years.

Apple will bring industry leading performance and performance-by-watt with its custom silicon. Apple’s chips will combine custom CPU, GPU, SSD controller and many other components. The Apple silicon will include the Neural Engine for machine learning applications.

Apple announced that it is working on a family of SoCs — system on a chip — to deploy across its Mac lineup, both laptops and desktops.

With macOS Big Sur, Apple has already updated its own applications to support the new Apple chips natively, including Final Cut Pro. Third-party developers can get started by recompiling their apps in the new version of Xcode. Apple announced that key partners including Adobe and Microsoft have already gotten many of their apps running on ARM.

Apple demoed all of macOS Big Sur’s features on a Mac running ARM, a so-called Apple Development Platform.

Apple is reviving the Rosetta brand, Rosetta 2, as the new option for emulation. Emulation will be required for apps that have not been updated to run natively. Apple says Rosetta 2 can offer fast performance and is transparent to users, although obviously apps with native code is preferred. New virtualisation options will be available for developers who need to run virtual machines on their computer.

“Most apps will just work”.

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