Self-designed chips in Apple computers, what does that mean for me? – Radar

During Monday’s keynote, Apple announced that it has decided to stop using chips from manufacturer Intel and instead start processing its own chips in its computers. This also has implications for users, more than just the speed of computers.

In short, Apple’s new computers will be faster and, above all, more economical, but keep in mind that some programs initially run slower or even do not work at all. Over time, new programs may stop working on your older computer. If you want to know why, read on.

Background

Apple has been using Intel processors in all of its computers since 2006. At the time, it was a wise choice, but behind the scenes, the company was working on its own chips. The first of these came out in 2010, the Apple A4, which was included in the iPhone 4 and first iPad. All iPhones and iPads, as well as other small devices like the Apple TV, have since been equipped with Apple processors.

The processor is the chip in your computer that performs most of the math. In fact, it is the central chip around which the rest of the computer is built.

Everything that even remotely falls under the term ‘computer’ has one (or sometimes more), from a postcard that plays a song when you open it, to Google’s huge data centers.

How well the processor is designed largely determines how fast and skilled your computer is.

Apple chips were very frugal and in many cases faster than competing chips in other smartphones and tablets, but still not quite up to the speed of ‘real’ computers. That’s why Apple continued to use Intel processors for MacBook, iMac and Mac Pro.

Meanwhile, the technology is not standing still, and an iPad Pro is already faster than a mid-range MacBook Pro, while also being a lot more economical. So there is little reason to pay Intel for its processors if your own are faster. Although practice has not yet shown whether Apple will also be able to keep up with the faster processors in the iMac and Mac Pro.

Do all programs work?

It only sounds beneficial to the end user, right? New computers are coming that are faster and have a better battery life. Apple might as well make them a little cheaper. However, there are quite a few chins.

The chips from Intel are based on the so-called x86 architecture, while those from Apple are designed according to the ARM architecture. These architectures each have their pros and cons, but it’s all quite complicated. The only thing that is important for you to remember is that programs designed for one design do not just run on another.

So that means all programs need to be converted by their developers to work on the new Apple computers. How much work it is varies by program, but according to Apple, most can be adjusted within a few days.

Most programs will probably work fine on the new computers right away. Of course, Apple makes sure that their own programs are updated on time. Furthermore, the company has already announced that Microsoft and Adobe will also make their programs, such as Word and Photoshop, suitable for the new processors.

Nevertheless, a few programs will certainly not be changed, for example, if the developer no longer works on them. Apple has also thought about this and has developed a method that allows the computer to pretend to be one with an Intel processor for such a program. The program runs a little slower this way. Time will tell how big a difference it makes, but it is certainly not small.

Will your current MacBook continue to work?

If you still have an Apple computer with an Intel processor, you do not have to worry that you will soon no longer receive updates. Apple says the switch to its own chips will take two years, with computers with Intel processors still coming out in the meantime.

Since Apple has been providing its computers with updates for about seven years now, you can safely assume that you will still be able to use your current computer for the next few years. Therefore, you can probably expect updates for computers with Intel processors until around the year 2028, and most programs will continue to work for a while thereafter.

This is not the first time Apple has taken such a step. In 2006, the company moved from IBM and Motorola’s PowerPC chips to Intel’s x86 processors. Following this move, Apple also provided support for PowerPC computers for a further seven years, until 2013. The last version of Mac OS X that worked on these computers was released in 2009.

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