Apple’s M1 Macs emulate some apps faster than Intel-based Macs can run them natively

Apple’s M1, found in Macs such as the company’s Mac mini, MacBook Air, and 13-inch MacBook Pro, is the most powerful chip it has ever created and the first chip designed specifically for the Mac.

M1 combines numerous powerful technologies into a single chip, and features a unified memory architecture for dramatically improved performance and efficiency. Apple’s M1 is the first personal computer chip built using cutting-edge 5-nanometer process technology and is packed with 16 billion transistors, the most Apple has ever put into a chip.

M1 is Apple’s first chip designed specifically for the Mac and the most powerful chip it has ever created.
M1 is Apple’s first chip designed specifically for the Mac and the most powerful chip it has ever created.

M1 features the world’s fastest CPU core in low-power silicon, the world’s best CPU performance per watt, the world’s fastest integrated graphics in a personal computer, and breakthrough machine learning performance with the Apple Neural Engine. As a result, M1 delivers up to 3.5x faster CPU performance, up to 6x faster GPU performance, and up to 15x faster machine learning, all while enabling battery life up to 2x longer than previous-generation Macs. With its profound increase in performance and efficiency, M1 delivers the biggest leap ever for the Mac.

Ed Hardy for Cult of Mac:

Apple says that the newly-announced Macs running Apple’s M1 processor can run some Intel applications faster than Intel-based Macs can. This is the result of technology in macOS Big Sur called Rosetta 2.

“The three Mac models running the M1 processor include Rosetta 2, which allows them to run software compiled for Intel chips,” said Craig Federighi, Apple’s SVP of Software Engineering at today’s M1 launch event. “Rosetta seamlessly runs apps built for Intel based Macs. So even without an app update, you can keep working on that Fusion 360 project, and get to the next level on your favorite game.”

“Thanks to Metal and M1, some of the most graphically demanding apps actually perform better under Rosetta than they did running natively on previous Macs with integrated graphics,” said the Apple exec.

MacDailyNews Take: We couldn’t have asked or hoped for more from macOS Big Sur’s Rosetta 2!


  1. All that bragging is full of conditionals that ultimately render it meaningless. Sure it is Apple’s fastest chip that is faster than any iPad. But there is no common industry definition of what is a “low power” chip and what isn’t. So we have no idea if Apple is abandoning the high end or not, or how this compares to intel desktops or even console games.

    The owner of a Mac Mini or iMac is not going to care if their chip draws 5 watts instead of 100. It all comes out of the wall anyway.

    1. Low power means it has potential to scale. For entry-level today it is very good indeed. And for Pro tomorrow it is promising. But this is a transition, with all its inconveniences. This M1 Macs are for the most popular Macs on their respective segments.

        1. It’s more than potential. The Apple graph says that the same performance can be achieved at 1/4 the power, at which this M1 chip will run. That already is huge. Apple supposedly already has the same performance as Intel at lower wattage. The power/performance curve is also much steeper than Intel, according to Apple. It means that even if development goes slowly and Apple can only scale its chip a little bit in power, the performance gains would still be huge.

    2. It’s not only Apple’s fastest chip, nor only the fastest low power chip. it is the fastest PC CPU, period.

      Well, not exactly, but one of the fastest. The benchmarks are in and M1 is in the same ballpark as e.g. AMD Ryzen 9 5950X and Intel Core i9-9900 on single core (somewhat slower on multicore). These are some of the fastest desktop chips money can buy. A lot of money: that Ryzen costs more than Mac mini with M1.

      With M1 Apple didn’t even try to do the fastest CPU they can, but a simple low power chip for entry level laptops, and it’s already about as fast as the very best desktop CPUs from AMD and Intel, and superior to mainstream laptop and desktop CPUs.

      We do have an idea that Apple is not abandoning high end: they have promised to update the whole product line, and there’s no reason to think they won’t get same level of performance gains there. When they optimize for the desktop, they will be years ahead the competition.

      There is no reason to worry, on the contrary.

  2. Promising for Pro applications. Promising because emulation may or not may be faster today, but hopefully in the next 2-3 years it will be truly powerful. For myself is tempting to buy one of the M1 entry options this year to install my apps and see how it behaves.

    For a more demanding Pro Mac who knows what Apple will do. I don’t think the M2 or M3 for a pro machine could compete in this segment with everything integrated. I hope Apple will be able to design separate components to unleash all the power it could produce on a separate GPU for example, and provide all the dedicated memory it needs. For next generation apps over 20 GB are available today. More CPUs could be packed on a dedicated silicon and so on. Apple could produce a very compact and powerful desktop Mac Pro and not charge 5 or 6k for an entry model.

  3. I have a feeling that 16-inch MacBook Pro and Mac Pro may wait until M2. I found it interesting that presentation said (a few times) THIS transition will take “several years,” not within “two years.” I think Apple is reassuring pro customers latest Intel Macs will be fully supported for many years. It won’t be like the PowerPC to Intel transition, when quick transition was necessary (because of poor state of PowerPC).

    1. M1 will be highly derivative of A14 series, hence it handles only two USB-4/Thunderbolt ports. You are right that we will have to wait for M2, which will probably be more its own thing.

  4. I think everyone here is speculating and trying way to hard to read between the lines.

    Somewhere in the next few weeks we’ll get a slew of articles and videos that will answer most of the questions on what the actual performance that can be expected.

    Apple events never go into enough detail.. and never will. Probably real soon we’ll find out whether or not the M1 can scream past eGPU’s and everything else or whether one needs to wait to the next generation to get what they want.

  5. For the 16 inch MBP would having multiple chips work? Having two or four M1 chips could provide the power when needed and the extra battery compared to the 13 inch model compensate for the energy drain.

    1. Its been a while since Apple or anyone but out a computer with multiple processors, for a long time, its been multiple “cores”, since we have no idea what the next gen will look like or when it will arrive, no one knows what to expect, though I am sure speculation will start soon.

      I think you have to evaluate and pay attention to how much processor power the M1 has. Since there are no benchmarks yet, so its hard to say how fast the M1 really is other than Apple saying its x times faster doing this.

      Bottomline, doubt you’ll ever see anything like your describing, ever..

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