Apple officially announced that it will move away using Intel processors in its computers and to its own custom-designed chips, and it says those processors will be faster than Intel’s and consume less power. The company is designing a family of SoCs for their Mac product line, so there will now be a common architecture across all product lines, from iOS to Mac.
All of Apple’s apps on Big Sur will run natively on Apple’s custom chips, too. Microsoft will make Office work natively on Apple’s custom ARM processors, and Adobe Photoshop and Final Cut Pro will also run natively on Apple silicon. “Most apps will just work with no changes from developers,” said Craig Federighi, SVP of Software Engineering at Apple Inc.
Big Sur will also include Rosetta 2, which will automatically translate existing Mac apps that haven’t been updated for Apple’s ARM chip. It will also be able to translate games, like Shadow of the Tomb Raider, to run on MacOS Big Sur. It won’t look as nice as on a dedicated GPU, but the demo showcased still looked pretty nice on an integrated GPU at 1080p—certainly better than a similar Windows machine with integrated Intel graphics. The demo Apple showed during the keynote was running on Apple’s Metal API, so technically it was already optimized to work on macOS. However, it would have to still be coded with Intel’s x86 architecture in mind, and that’s where Rosetta 2 comes in: it needs to translate that x86 code to ARM code.
Besides Shadow of the Tomb Raider Apple also showed off three 4K clips running side by side in Final Cut Pro—an impressive feat. However, beyond those two examples, the performance showcases amounted to little more than “it just looks and feels snappier.” Apple will be sending development kits to lucky developers, so hopefully we’ll have a better sense of just how fast these A12Z chips are in the coming months. Which is good because Apple expects to ship its first ARM-powered devices later this year and complete the transition to ARM by 2022.
If you’re a recent adopted of the MacPro that’s definitely a cause for concern—though Apple says it will support Intel-based computers for “years to come.”