Apple Silicon

 A note contributed by Peter Cross

The rumour mills have it that as early as November 17 an Apple online event will announce both a new laptop and a new iMac featuring revolutionary “Apple Silicon” chips.

With the release of MacOS 10.5 Catalina, Apple introduced Catalyst which was a sort of translation system which allowed IOS apps to be used on a Mac. With the announcement last September that henceforth Apple will be using IOS style processors in the Mac, Catalyst will no longer be necessary to run such apps (though it can still be useful). Unmodified IOS apps will run “natively” on the new machines (which use ARM-based rather than the current, Intel-based, processors). This will be a boon for those of us who’d like to run our favourite iPhone or iPad apps on the new machines but it is probably not the main benefit of the change.

The new Macs will have cheaper processors, lower power consumption, and better heat dissipation, compliments of their ARM based chip architecture. In layman’s terms, they will be lighter, cooler, and have substantially improved battery life. Because of Apple’s skill in modifying ARM chips, they will be able to produce blazingly fast machines with mind-blowing capabilities compared to current models.

A custom-built version of Apple’s Big Sur operating system (already announced and beta-tested) will be available for the new machines. The Intel version of Big Sur, which contains a host of much anticipated updates and innovations seems to have been held back so that its release will coincide with the release of the first of the new Macs sporting the ARM architecture, dubbed Apple Silicon by Apple.

Intel’s failure to produce chip improvements in a timely manner has meant that the release of Apple laptops and desktops has often been substantially delayed. The move to Apple Silicon will mean that Apple will no longer be dependent on external sources for its laptop and desktop chip design. Its in-house proficiency in this area has already allowed it to lead the field with its iPads and iPhones and this will now extend to the Mac. It’s hard to underestimate the magnitude of the move. It seems more significant than the 2006 shift from PowerPC to Intel and may be the most important event since the release of the Mac itself in 1984. We eagerly look forward to this month’s (as yet unannounced) Apple event.

Some links:

ARM Architecture

Running IOS on the Mac

Big Sur features

Apple Silicon release date rumours