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Apple M1 Chip

how the future will look like ...



As mentioned in the previous blog "The development of Rosetta & Apple processors", we now go into possible scenarios.


What's in Apple's M1 chip?

The Apple M1 chip, which like Apple's A14 bionic chip is manufactured using the five-nanometer process, has eight CPU cores that are divided into four performance (Firestorm) and four efficiency cores (Icestrom). In addition, the chip has a graphics unit (GPU) with up to eight cores that can run up to 25,000 threads simultaneously. In total, the M1 System-on-a-Chip (SoC) consists of 16 billion transistors.


First "System on a Chip" for the Mac

In addition to the CPU and GPU, there is a neural engine, I/O including Thunderbolt, the T2 security chip and the main memory on the package. The 16-core neural engine that accelerates machine learning capabilities achieves up to 11 trillion operations per second. In Macs with an Intel processor, the RAM, I/O and T2 chip were soldered separately to the mainboard.



macOS Big Sur optimized for M1



Built from the ground up to take full advantage of the capabilities and power of the M1, macOS Big Sur brings extreme performance gains, fantastic battery life, and even stronger security and privacy features. The M1 handles daily applications much faster and smoother. All Mac software from Apple is now in Universal format and runs natively on M1 systems. Existing Mac apps that have not been updated to Universal Format will still work seamlessly with Apple's Rosetta 2 technology. (Source Apple)



Start of a two-year transition for the Mac


The M1 delivers the power for the new MacBook Air, 13" MacBook Pro and the new Mac mini. The iMac 24" followed in spring 2021. Along with the rest of the Mac family, they form the strongest Mac lineup of all time. This is the beginning of a move to a new line of chips designed specifically for the Mac. The switch to Apple chips will take about two years in total. (Source Apple)


Not good virtualization yet


However, the biggest obstacle to switching to ARM Macs from a development perspective is that virtualization software cannot be used with Rosetta and is not currently available natively. This applies to, for example Parallels Desktop as for VMware Fusion. Both manufacturers are working on a solution, but have not yet given a date for availability. (Unfortunately, Windows on the Mac comes with a number of conditions. First and foremost, there is no guarantee that Microsoft will agree to make Windows 10 available for ARM, the required operating system for end users.)


How can Windows work on Apple M1 computers?


Not at all from today's perspective. Boot Camp does not exist on Apple M1 computers. Virtualizations cannot be run in Rosetta 2, Microsoft has not yet released the Windows ARM version for end users.



What alternatives are there?


In order to be able to operate a mature, fast Windows 10 interface, you need an X86 emulation or an Intel processor with native Windows 10. In other words: you need an Intel Mac for this. If you are dependent on Windows 10 on a Mac, Apple M1 computers are therefore out of the question.




As a result, you can buy an Intel Mac mini, install Boot Camp on it with your favorite Windows interface, and start using it Microsoft Remote Desktop, which is available on the App Store for Mac or iOS. However, this requires Windows Pro. In the picture above you can see entire server farms with such Mac minis.




Another solution is, for example, the ESXi server from VMWare.

ESXi servers are capable of running multiple clients concurrently on the same server. You do not install Windows on your computer, but remotely on an ESXi server. You can access your environment with Microsoft Remote Desktop (requires a Windows Pro license). This software is available for Mac or iOS in your App Store.




Summary:


We are at a crossroads today with the M1 era, as we were 15 years ago. In 2005, Apple switched from PowerPC to Intel processors and for a period (until Mac OS 10.7 Lion) allowed Rosetta emulation to run old PowerPC programs.


Today, in 2021, the 2nd change is coming. Away from Intel processors towards Apple's own SoC with Apple M1 processors. It is already foreseeable that Apple will eventually stop supporting Intel-based programs on their own Apple SoC. When this point in time will be depends on how quickly Apple manages to convert its entire product range to its own chips and how quickly Mac software developers adapt their programs to the native code for M1 computers.



The next macOS is just around the corner. The successor to macOS Big Sur is called macOS Monterey and is coming this fall. Monterey is suitable for the following Macs:





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