Apple today announced its plans to switch its Mac lineup to its custom-designed chips. The company says that its own “Apple Silicon” will allow it to bring a number of amazing new features to Macs in the future.
The company notes that its custom chips have allowed iPhones and iPad to offer a level of performance that is far ahead of the competition. Apple notes that compared to the original iPhone, the current iPhone offers 100X faster CPU performance while the GPU on the iPad offers a 1000x performance improvement. The company is now bringing the same level of expertise to its custom Mac chips and its custom chips will offer the best of both worlds, performance and power consumption. What kind of performance improvements are we talking about? Apple demoed a Mac with A12Z Bionic chip running macOS Big Sur playing back 3 streams of 4K videos without any issues.
Apple says that just better performance is enough to use its custom SoCs inside Macs. However, there are other improvements as well such as advanced power management, Secure Enclave, cryptography acceleration, and more. To deliver all this, Apple is designing a family of SoCs, especially for Macs. To make it easier for developers, the company will use the same unified architecture across all its products. Another advantage of this is that all existing iOS and iPadOS apps will run natively on Macs with Apple Silicon.
As a part of macOS Big Sur, Apple has already made all of its apps using a new version of Xcode which makes them compatible with its upcoming Apple Silicon. Apple is also working with Microsoft and Adobe to ensure their apps work with Macs running Apple Silicon. It demoed Microsoft Word, Lightroom, and Photoshop running on a Mac with A12Z Bionic chip and 16GB RAM during the keynote. The company will be providing developers with a tool that will automatically convert their apps to work on Macs with Apple Silicon.
To ensure that existing Mac apps will work on new Arm Macs, Apple is debuting Rosetta 2 that will automatically translate code for existing Intel Mac apps when running on Arm Macs. There is also a new Virtualization feature to run Linux, Docker, and more on Arm-based Macs.
Apple is launching a quick start program so that they can develop universal apps that will work across all Apple platforms. They will also get access to documentation and sample code along with DTK hardware. The Developer Kit has a Mac Mini enclosure with A12Z SoC, 16GB RAM, and 512GB SSD.
Apple expects to ship the first Apple Silicon Mac before the end of this year and it expects to complete the transition within the next two years.