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ARM Mac support

tgaspar
Contributor

On WWDC 2020 in June, Apple announced its planned transition of system architecture of its Macintosh computers from Intel-based CPUs to Apple-designed chips that use the ARM architecture. Full transition is planned to take a couple of years, with the first computers with the new ARM chipset available to purchase starting November 2020.

GRAPHISOFT is actively working on adapting our solutions to be compatible with the new hardware environment. This document is to describe our plans and to provide answer to frequently asked questions.

When will GRAPHISOFT solutions become compatible with Macs with ARM chipset?

GRAPHISOFT solutions are compatible with the new hardware via Apple’s Rosetta translation environment today. Since the announcement of the change, our development is working on the Developer Transition Kit received by Apple to manage the necessary modifications of the software. As Archicad is a versatile BIM tool, there is a large amount of work to be done to achieve the compatibility and benefit from the advantages of this new technology. We already have working prototypes in-house that show promising performance and we plan to release a public preview version of the software in the second half of next year. According to our plans a full commercial release of Archicad natively running on the ARM architecture is to be expected in 2022.

Should I buy Intel or ARM-based Macs if I need to invest in new computers now?

It depends on your typical project types/sizes you want to do with Archicad. The hardware Apple released in November 2020 are computers with entry-level hardware specs matching only Archicad’s minimum hardware requirements. So if you are doing small(er) scale typically residential projects, a new ARM-based computer might be an eligible choice. If your typical projects are medium to large size, we recommend that you wait until Apple releases computers with more RAM and processor cores. You can find our detailed performance review with M1 chip here. We anticipate the next wave of higher speed ARM machines towards the middle of 2021. 

For how long will GRAPHISOFT support Intel Macs?

Naturally as long as Archicad is not released to run natively on ARM our default Mac platform is for the Intel-based architecture. Even after the release of the ARM-native version of Archicad we are planning to have a comfortable transition period so there will be an overlap when we release our products for both Intel and ARM chipsets.

How does Archicad work on ARM Macs with Rosetta 2?

Rosetta 2 is a translator that allows apps with x86_64 instructions to run on Apple Silicon. To the users, Rosetta is almost transparent. However, the translation process takes time, therefore users might experience certain slowness with translated apps.

We conducted a series of tests with the M1 chip. In short, we found no serious issues running supported versions of Archicad and BIMcloud on Rosetta 2. Archicad runs as fast or slightly faster than on Intel-based computers with similar specifications even via Rosetta. For more information, please check out the article here.

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