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Transition to Apple silicon Frequently Asked Questions FAQ

Article ID = 254
Article Title = Transition to Apple silicon Frequently Asked Questions FAQ
Article Author(s) = Graham Needham (BH)
Article Created On = 23rd June 2020
Article Last Updated = 8th June 2021 • updated 4 days ago
Article URL = https://www.macstrategy.com/article.php?254

Article Brief Description:
Frequently Asked Questions about the transition to Apple silicon/processors/chips in their Mac range of computers

Transition to Apple processors Frequently Asked Questions

Apple officially announced at their WWDC online virtual event on 22nd June 2020 that they were going to transition to using their own hardware processors (which are ARM based) in their Mac range of computers instead of using Intel processors.
Q. Why is Apple transitioning to their own processors instead of using Intel's?
A. Apple stated that it is "to deliver industry-leading performance and powerful new technologies" that will "also establish a common architecture across all Apple products, making it far easier for developers to write and optimize their apps for the entire ecosystem", but there will also be the significant factors of "overall control", "costs" and "profit".
Q. When are the first Apple Mac computers being released with Apple's own processors?
A. Apple announced and launched the first Apple Silicon Macs on 10th November 2020. Macs that are available with Apple's own silicon include:
Q. Will all Apple Mac computers, including the Pro models, ultimately be upgraded to use Apple's own processors?
A. Yes. Apple stated that they aimed to "complete the transition in about two years" i.e. by the end of 2022.
Q. Will Intel's Thunderbolt technology be supported with new Apple processor based Macs?
A. Yes. The first Apple Silicon Macs announced on 10th November 2020 have Thunderbolt 3 / USB-C v4 ports (USB 3.1 Gen 2 up to 10 Gbps).
Q. Will new Apple processor based Macs be cheaper than current models?
A. In some cases, yes. The Mac mini (2020 M1 model) announced on 10th November 2020 starts at US$699 with 8GB RAM and 256GB storage, whereas the previous Mac mini (2020 Intel model) with 8GB RAM and 256GB storage started at US$799.
Q. When can developers start building applications for Apple processor based Macs?
A. Immediately, from 22nd June 2020, using the newly announced Xcode 12.
Q. What's the first version of macOS to support Apple processors?
A. macOS 11 Big Sur.
Q. Will macOS 11 / Apple Silicon Macs support virtual machines/environments e.g. via Parallels, Fusion and VirtualBox?
A. Yes, but…
  • If your Mac has an Intel processor you should still be able to virtualise macOS, Linux and Windows as normal.
  • If your Mac has an Apple processor you should be able to virtualise macOS, Linux and Windows (ARM version). You will not be able to virtualise the normal 32/64-bit version of Windows and you may not be able to virtualise older versions of macOS - we will update this article when we know more.
NOTE: Some Windows applications can be run directly using Codeweaver's CrossOver - version 20.0.2 or later is supported on Apple Silicon Macs.
Q. What have Parallels said about virtualisation on Apple Silicon Macs?
A. On the 17th December 2020 Parallels released the first version of Parallels Desktop 16 for M1 Macs (supporting virtualisation of macOS).
A. On the 20th December 2020 Parallels posted a "How to Test Windows 10 ARM Insider on M1 Macs using Parallels" article online.
A. On the 14th April 2021 Parallels released version 16.5 of Parallels Desktop for M1 Macs (supporting virtualisation of macOS, Linux and Windows ARM version).
Q. What have VMware said about virtualisation on Apple Silicon Macs?
A. VMware tweeted on 10th November 2020 - "While we're not quite ready to announce our timeline, we're happy to say that we are committed to delivering VMware virtual machines on #AppleSilicon!".
Q. What have Microsoft said about virtualising Windows on Apple Silicon Macs?
A. In December 2020 Microsoft began offering a version of ARM based Windows through the Windows Insider Program - but note that there is currently no public version of ARM based Windows available to be purchased by consumers/businesses. Microsoft announced in a blog post on 30th September 2020 that they are working on getting Windows 10 running on ARM including x64 app emulation, so there is hope. Microsoft have a useful online FAQ about running the ARM version of Windows. MacWorld also posted a good article on 11th February 2021.
Q. Will macOS 11 / Apple Silicon Macs support running iOS/iPadOS apps?
A. Yes, but…
  • If your Mac has an Intel processor it has not been made clear whether you can or can't do this but it is most likely that you will not be able to - we will update this article when we know more.
  • If your Mac has an Apple processor you will definitely be able to run iOS/iPadOS apps on your Mac - they will be available to download via the App Store
Q. Can I run any iOS/iPadOS app on an Apple Silicon Mac?
A. Yes, but the software developer has to make that app available via the Mac App Store to easily download it and install it. Otherwise you will need to use a third-party utility (like iMazing) to download the correct IPA file to run - even then, remember that app was originally designed for an iPhone/iPad with a touch screen so it may not work perfectly and Apple may put restrictions in place to prevent you doing this in the future. As of 15th January 2021 Apple has stopped this from working.
A. It has been reported that running App Store iOS apps requires that System Integrity Protection (SIP) is enabled.
Q. Will applications built for Macs with Apple processors work on older versions of macOS?
A. Developers can make their applications Universal 2 binary compliant. If the application is Universal 2 compliant it will run on older versions of macOS (exact versions to be confirmed at a later date, but might only be from macOS 11 onwards). If the application is built only for Apple processors it will only run on Macs that have Apple processors.
Q. Will applications built for Intel processors still work on new Apple processor based Macs?
A. Mostly, yes. Apple has created a new Rosetta 2 technology that allows for Mac Intel based applications to run on Apple processor based Macs - older, plain vanilla applications (but not too old as to be 32-bit) should run. But not all applications will run:
  • Lyman T on MacInTouch clarifies with, "anything that uses modern Vectors (AVX, AVX2, and AVX512) or Intel's new ML instructions won't work [with Rosetta 2]. Also anything that was to run inside the kernel won't (some low level driver extensions). So some very new applications and probably some very old (with little or no current maintenance) kernel stuff won't."
  • Non-Mac App Store applications have to be code signed.
Q. Do I have to do anything special to get applications built for Intel processors to run on new Apple processor based Macs?
A. Not particularly, but note, that on the very first launch of any application that requires Rosetta, macOS will prompt you with a "Software Update" window asking you "To open "App", you need to install Rosetta. Do you want to install it now?" - you can click "Not Now" or "Install". Once Rosetta has been installed, on first launch of each individual Intel application, Apple Silicon Macs will translate (via Rosetta) the application on the fly and then load it into memory. For larger applications e.g. Microsoft Office applications, this process could take some time i.e. 15-30 seconds, so you will get a bouncing Dock icon for a while and then the application will run. This process only happens on the first launch of each individual Intel application but if you restart your computer, this first launch process will happen again.
Q. Will plug-ins work on new Apple processor based Macs?
A. This can affect creative users especially those involved in graphics, video and music. As before with previous transitions, old plug-ins may not work in native or Universal 2 binary compliant applications on Apple processor based Macs - they may have to be updated to work properly. Apple has stated "With the translation technology of Rosetta 2, users will be able to run existing Mac apps that have not yet been updated, including those with plug-ins", so it remains to be seen how well Rosetta 2 copes with these technologies.
Q. If I have a Universal 2 binary compliant application but still need to run the Intel version via Rosetta 2 to use old plug-ins, is there a way to do this?
A. Yes. Locate the Application in the Finder > go to File menu > Get Info > TICK the "Open using Rosetta" box.
Q. How can I tell if an application is 32-bit, 64-bit, Intel, Universal 2 Binary or Apple Silicon only?
A. We recommend using Uni Detector which is free on the Mac App Store Buy it now on the Mac App Store
Q. Will Serif's application suite be made compatible with new Apple processor based Macs?
A. Yes. Serif announced and launched Apple Silicon compatible universal 2 binary versions of all three applications on 13th November 2020 one day after macOS 11 Big Sur was made available!
Q. Will Microsoft Office be made compatible with new Apple processor based Macs?
A. Yes - on 15th December 2020 Microsoft announced Universal 2 Binary (Apple Silicon) updates (with a couple of limitations) were made available through Microsoft's usual update channels.
Q. Will Adobe Creative Cloud be made compatible with new Apple processor based Macs?
A. Yes. Apple previewed Adobe Photoshop running at their WWDC online virtual event on 22nd June 2020. On 8th December 2020 Adobe made the Lightroom 4.1 update available which is a Universal 2 Binary application (and also supports the new Apple ProRAW format of the iPhone 12 Pro / 12 Pro Max). On 10th March 2021 Adobe released the Photoshop 22.3 update which included preliminary support for Apple Silicon but with some specific differences and limitations. On 8th June 2021 Adobe released Illustrator and InDesign updates to natively support Apple Silicon.
Q. Is anyone keeping track of applications that are compatible with the new Apple processor based Macs?
A. Yes - there's an Is Apple silicon ready? web site.
Q. Are there specifically different ways of doing some things on the new Apple processor based Macs compared to the older Intel based Macs?
A. Yes - there's a good article on MacWorld's web site. Some of those key differences along with additional points are listed here:
  • Starting up in Recovery Mode - when turning on an Apple Silicon Mac hold the power button down
  • Internet Recovery Mode is no longer supported
  • Apple Silicon Macs do not have a System Management Controller (SMC) so this cannot be reset
  • Setting a Firmware Password is no longer supported
  • Startup Security (for the boot volume) can no longer be set to "No Security"
  • Starting up from an external drive can no longer be done from System Preferences > Startup - instead you now use Recovery Mode to get to the boot manager options
  • Booting up in Safe Mode must now be done from the Recovery Mode boot manager
  • Booting up in Apple Diagnostics Mode must now be done from the Recovery Mode using Command + D
  • Target Disk Mode is no longer supported - instead you may be able to use the new Disk Sharing Mode while in Recovery Mode
  • There is a dedicated, secure recovery area on the internal storage - if this becomes damaged/corrupted/deleted/inaccessible for any reason (for example, a power failure during a macOS upgrade), you may not be able to revive/restore the computer by itself - you will need another Mac with USB-C, a USB-C data cable and the Apple Configurator software installed on the second Mac!
Q. How do I use Mac Sharing Mode?
A. Connect both Macs with a USB-C or a Thunderbolt cable > boot to macOS recovery > select Options > Utilities > Share volume > you can then transfer data - you will need to authenticate with an admin account/SecureToken User that is on the host Mac.

Article Keywords: macOS 11 Big Sur 1100 transition to Apple silicon processor chips SoCs Intel ARM Universal Binary 2 Universal2 Rosetta 2 backwards compatibility Rosetta2 Mac Macintosh Pro computers M1

This article is © MacStrategy » a trading name of Burning Helix. As an Amazon Associate, employees of MacStrategy's holding company (Burning Helix sro) may earn from qualifying purchases. Apple, the Apple logo, and Mac are trademarks of Apple Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries. App Store is a service mark of Apple Inc.


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