Macs Moving to Apple Silicon

Apple announced that in the future, Macs will no longer be powered by Intel chips but will instead rely on custom-designed Apple chips. The company has made such massive transitions twice before: first in 1994 with the move from Motorola’s 68000 chips to IBM’s PowerPC platform, and again in 2006 with the jump to processors from Intel. 

What is Apple silicon?

Apple creates its own chips to power the iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Apple TV. These chips are based on a platform called ARM. Of all Apple’s products, only the Mac has continued to use processors from Intel. Apple said it would be creating chips specifically to power Macs, although they’ll be part of the same chip family used in iOS devices.

Why is Apple making this transition?

  • Performance: By creating its own chips, Apple can tweak the designs to the sweet spot of performance and power consumption for any given Mac.
  • Profit: Intel processors have high profit margins, and Apple would prefer to keep that money instead of paying it to Intel.
  • Control: With Apple making its own chips, its product roadmaps are within its control, rather than being subject to Intel’s schedule, capabilities, and whims.

When will the first Macs with Apple silicon appear?

Apple said that we’d see the first Mac with Apple silicon by the end of 2020.

Is it better to wait for Apple silicon Macs?

There are two schools of thought. Some recommend buying the first models that appear because Macs with the previous chips may have a shorter effective lifespan. Others prefer to buy the last models with the earlier chips under the assumption that the first new Macs might have unanticipated problems.

How long will Apple keep selling Intel-based Macs?

The company said that it anticipates releasing new Intel-based Macs for roughly 2 years and that it has some exciting new models in the pipeline.

How long will Apple continue to support Intel-based Macs?

Apple didn’t commit to a specific length of time but said it would be releasing new software and supporting Intel-based Macs “for years to come.” In the previous processor transition from PowerPC to Intel, Apple maintained the Rosetta translation environment for over 5 years.

Will my software run on a Mac with Apple silicon?

Happily, yes! Apple announced Rosetta 2, which will ship with macOS before Macs with Apple silicon appear. Rosetta 2 automatically translates existing Intel-based apps. Apple said that Rosetta 2 will be completely transparent to the user.

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