Perhaps the biggest announcement at WWDC 2020 was Apple's transition to an ARM-based architecture for its Mac lineup. It was widely rumored that Apple was considering a move away from Intel and would be developing its own system on a chip. Today, the company made it official and detailed its plan for rolling out this new hardware platform. Continue reading to learn five things you need to know as Apple makes this transition.
A Family of SoCs
Apple confirmed that it's not working on only one system on a chip, but a family that is suitable for a variety of Mac hardware. Similar to iOS, these SoCs will include a neural engine for machine learning applications. They also will be combined with different onboard GPU and SSD controllers. These configurations will determine whether the Mac is an entry-level laptop or a high-end desktop.
Big Sur and Some Apps Are Already ARM-Ready
Big Sur is ready for the company's ARM architecture, and so are some of Apple's native apps. In fact, all of the company's Big Sur features announced during the keynote were demoed on a Mac running ARM, the company's new development platform. With macOS Big Sur, Apple has updated its apps, like Final Cut Pro, to natively support the new ARM hardware when it debuts. Apple also showcased third-party apps from Microsoft and Adobe, which are running on the company's ARM-based platform.
Rosetta Emulation Is Back
Apple realizes that not every developer is going to port their apps to the ARM architecture. These apps will run in a new option for emulation called Rosetta 2. Apple says this emulation will be fast and transparent to users. "Most apps will just work," the company said during the announcement.
Developer Kits Are Similar to the New iPad Pro
Apple is releasing Mac mini-based hardware kits for developers who want to start porting their apps to the ARM architecture. The Mac mini is powered by an A12Z processor, which is the same processor in the current iPad Pro. The A12Z processor is identical to the A12X chip but has an extra GPU core. The Mac mini will also ship with 16GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD.
They Are Coming Sooner Than Expected
Apple's CEO, Tim Cook, confirmed that the company plans to release its first ARM-based Mac by the end of the year. It hopes to have its entire Mac lineup converted over to the ARM platform within two years.