Why you should care: With the transition to Silicon, Apple is able to bring everything about the product under one roof — from conception, design, software and the hardware that makes everything run. It’s the same workflow Apple has been using for years on the iPhone and iPad, which allows for a much more seamless experience. In short: The hardware is designed for the software, and the software is tuned for the hardware. That’s exactly what we’re seeing now with the first Macs by M1 (Apple’s first Silicon chip for computers) and macOS Big Sur.
M1, Apple’s first Silicon chip for the Mac, is faster than the Intel chips in Mac right now. And given Apple’s history with its chips (evident with iPhone and iPad performance), they will continue to outpace themselves. On the new MacBook Air, performance is up to 3.5x faster than the previous Intel chip.
What it means for the future: Apple understands (or rather, expects) that not all applications will be optimized for M1 and Silicon on day one. And there are two core solutions that Apple has lined out: With Universal Apps, developers can build apps that work on Silicon Macs and Intel Macs. Adobe is on board with this, so expect Lightroom to ship next month, and Photoshop in early 2021.
Second, Apple has an emulator called Rosetta. This is a way to run Intel applications on a Silicon-based machine. Essentially, it’s a way for you to run apps, which will soon be called legacy apps, on your new machine. It also alleviates some concerns about purchasing a Mac laptop powered by Silicon.
This transition as a whole is really setting up the Mac for success in the future and allows Apple to have deeper breakthroughs in product developments — as well as deliver new features, like instant turn-on when you open the lid on a MacBook Air or Pro.
Let’s get nerdy: Apple’s M1 system-on-a-chip combines all the needed parts for a computer to run on one chip. It consists of an 8-core CPU that itself is made from four high-performance cores and four efficiency cores. M1 also features a neural engine and an integrated GPU (graphics processing unit). And it’s all tuned to work well in macOS Big Sur.