WWDC 2020: Rosetta 2 on Apple Silicon Macs and Virtualization

Rosetta 2 on Apple Silicon Macs

During its WWDC 2020 keynote presentation, Apple announced the long-expected Mac transition from Intel to Arm-based processors. Future Mac computers will use an Apple Silicon System-on-a-Chip. To help ease the transition, Apple is bringing us Rosetta 2 on Apple Silicon Macs and new virtualization technology.

Rosetta 2 on Apple Silicon Macs

The Rebirth of an Old Friend, Rosetta 2, to Help Apple Silicon Macs

In the early days of Apple’s move from Power PC to Intel processors, Rosetta helped with that transition. Apps written for Power PC were automatically ported to the new Intel-based Macs on-the-fly.

Since Apple has always played close to the vest with new products, this was a huge advantage. People didn’t have to wait for developers to release new, Intel-compatible versions of their apps.

With Rosetta 2 on Apple Silicon Macs, Apple gives you that same advantage. It will help developers, too, giving them a comfort zone in porting and testing their native-built apps.

Rosetta 2 on Apple Silicon Macs Means an Easy Migration

Until developers recompile and release their apps for Apple Silicon Macs, you won’t be left without your important software. You can even run your iPhone and iPad apps using Rosetta 2.

Introducing Rosetta 2, Craig Federighi, SVP of Software Engineering, reminded us that Apple’s been down this road before. He pointed out that Rosetta was a “cornerstone of [the Power PC to Intel] transition.” Rosetta 2 on Apple Silicon Macs offers fast performance and translates your apps at install time. That means they’ll launch immediately and be very responsive. The software tool also supports on-the-fly translation for Just-In-Time (JIT) apps, such as web browser or Java apps.

Rosetta 2 on Apple Silicon Macs
The Apple Development Hardware, using an Apple A12Z processor

Andreas Wendker, Apple VP of Tools & Frameworks Engineering, demonstrated running 3D animation and modeling software Maya in a virtual machine. It looked amazing. Even with textures and shading added, Maya performs quickly and smoothly.

Wendker also demonstrated playing Shadow of the Tomb Raider using a game controller. It plays fluidly and responsively, even when the app is translated using Rosetta 2.

New Virtualization Makes Your Mac More Powerful

Along with Rosetta 2, macOS Big Sur will allow you to enjoy amazing virtualization support. Your virtual machines in Parallels, VMWare Fusion and VirtualBox will be able to take advantage of built-in support to speed up virtualization.

With the new Virtualization, developers can run Linux or Docker with near-native performance. Even cooler, you can even play iPhone or iPad apps right on your Mac. They run just as beautifully as they run on iOS or iPad OS.

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