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X-Plane And Apple's Move to ARM Processors


On Tuesday Apple announced new Macs powered by Apple's M1 chip, acustom ARM system-on-a-chip based on the Apple A-series System on aChip (SoC) from the iPhone and iPad.

The rest of this post is probably only of interest to Mac users,but for Windows users, it's worth noting that the M1 chip is fast. Ittargets laptop and low power use cases, not gamer-class hardware, andit's not a discrete GPU. Here's my 27" iMac - Intel says the i9in it is a 95W part:

Single core: 1265 Multi-core: 9414

and here's a new M1-based MacBook Air, with 8 cores running at tenwatts:

Single core: 1732 Multi-core: 7545

That's a pretty high score for Apple's first trip into desktopland. One more for perspective:

AMD's new Ryzen 5900X, which is a great chip, with a 105W TDP:

Single Core: 1619, Multi-core: 13656

The take-away here is that Apple doesn't just have fast chips fortheir new machines, they might have the fastest ones.

Now, how is this going to work with X-Plane and plugins?

X-Plane 11 is an x86_64 app, as are all plugins ever written forit. So if you run it on an Intel Mac, it just works, and if you run iton one of the new ARM Macs, it will run using Rosetta, which willtranslate the code as you fly.

In the future, we will have an X-Plane build that is "universal" –that is, it contains ARM and x86_64 code, and we will have a pluginSDK that contains both ARM and x86_64 code. At this point, pluginauthors can start recompiling plugins to contain both types of code aswell. Users with ARM Macs will have the choice to (1) run ‘natively’in ARM for higher performance and use only plugins that are universalor (2) continue to run x86_64 code under Rosetta, so that all pluginswork.

(This option is available for all apps that are universal on an ARMMac – you turn “Use Rosetta†on or off in the app properties.)

This situation is exactly the same as the PPC->x86 transition wewent through years ago.

Plugin developers: once Big Sur and the new X-code are out and wehave an ARM plugin SDK, you can add a new architecture to your projectand that should be it, as long as you don’t use any x86 assembly codein your add-on.

Where to Send Feature Requests | X-Plane Developer
X-Plane 11.50 Now Released

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