New Chip, New Era: Myths and Realities of Apple’s Switch to Mac ARM (Clear X # 101)

Apple Macs are transforming. They abandon the Intel processors and the x86-64 architecture to move to the integration of Apple’s own processors with the ARM architecture.

This transition is of utmost importance to Apple, but the company wants this to happen with no impact on the user, who theoretically should not notice virtually any negative side effects (although there are some at first) and with some positive surprise

Macs want to be better than ever, and Apple thinks that’s the way to do it. It will be? To talk about this challenge that we have Juan Carlos Lopez placeholder image (@juanklore), editor at SamaGame, and a server, Javier Pastor (@javipas), also editor-in-chief at SamaGame. At the controls is Saints Araújo (@santiaraujo) editor in SamaGame and producer of it and other in-house podcasts such as Infinite Loop.

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Many challenges for a promising future (especially for Apple)

The importance of this transition is spectacular for Apple: thanks to this change of its own chips control of almost the entire product development cycle is ensured. Not relying on third parties like Intel frees the Mac from this bondage and allows the Cupertino company to control features, costs and renewal cycles like it already does with the iPhone.

The challenge is significant, but it is nothing new for the company. Tim Cook referred to it as Apple’s fourth transition. First they moved from Motorola Mac CPUs to PowerPC processors, then there was a software transition with the release of Mac OS X, and in 2005 the move from PowerPC processors to Intel was announced. This era lasted 15 years, but it is now coming to an end.

Apple Mac ARM’s New Era Begins: What Can We Expect From Future iMacs and MacBooks

Among the challenges, two particularly remarkable. The first, what about performance? Will the Mac ARMs be more powerful than the ones we had at Intel or less? It is difficult to answer this question, but everything indicates that these processors are promising and even demanding users will not have any kind of problem when using their machines in the same scenarios that they are currently using them.

The second, what about the software? Will users of these Macs be able to continue using the software they were already using on their « old » Macs? Here Apple has the experience of the previous transition and has come up with up to four different ways to attack the problem and not make it clear to the user. In fact, not only should Mac software be better than ever, it’s also more substantial thanks to the ability to run all iOS and iPadOS apps natively.

The movement will have obvious consequences in various fields. For starters, Apple made sure that These Macs cannot be started with operating systems such as Linux or Windows, although they can be run as virtual machines. Second, the fact that fans of Hackintosh, unofficial macOS-based clones seem doomed to be gone when Apple’s hardware and software transition to ARM is complete in a few years.

The future is really bright for an Apple which, with this transition, opens the doors to striking possibilities, such as that of unifying software: it already has a single hardware platform in operation (its ARM microphones) therefore we might see a merger of iOS / iPadOS with macOS in the future. Additionally, even touch support is seen in macOS to make more sense of native iPadOS app support in Mac ARMs.

There are undoubtedly exciting years to come in which there can undoubtedly be some initial conflicts and disadvantages typical of such a relevant change, but here Apple seems to have made a truly remarkable decision. We’ll see how the coin comes out.

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