Forbes Review of the Apple M1 Machines
mark last edited by mark
Like all of you that use Apple machines, I'm reading many initial reviews about the new Apple Silicon / M1 machines. There are many that are touting the power of the M1 chip, and I think (in general) Apple is going in the right direction with this new technology.
For one, the fact that the CPU and GPU (graphics card) share memory. This means pulling data from GPU to to CPU – something that is dreadfully slow with existing GPUs – will be ultra fast. For things like outputting Isadora's stage to NDI and Blackmagic devices, there is the potential for massive improvement.
However, this critical article in Forbes caught my eye. It calls into question many of the claims Apple made during the introduction event. I leave it for you to read and interpret. But these "bullet points" seem crucial for anyone using Isadora and related software.
- First, these machines are limited to one external display. To me, this is a serious limitation that would affect nearly every Isadora user.
- Second, these machines only has two USB-C ports. After you plug in the power you're left with one port. Plug in an external display, and you've got zero ports left for a mouse, an external drive, etc. Of course, you can add ports with a USB-Hub. But for something called a Mac Book Pro, two ports feels pretty limiting.
- Third, there problems with lots of apps, drivers and third-party software – some won't even install, others simply crash. Notably, the Adobe Suite is not officially supported. (There is a growing list of that shows which apps are compatible or not; you can see here.)
- Finally, Apps that are not natively compelled for the M1 chips (i.e., are compiled for Intel) run under emulation, and this imposes about a 50% performance penalty.
Of course, the last two points will become less troublesome as more apps and drivers are ported to run natively on the M1 chip. (The unknown factor is, how long will it take for developers to offer updated versions.) But at the moment, the lack of compatibility is something one must consider before moving to one of these machines.
In any case, we will get our mini-Mac based M1 as soon as possible and start to find out what it will take to port Isadora to the M1. Right now, Isadora 3.0.7 is incompatible with the Intel version of Big Sur, but we're getting close to finalizing a release that will address this. We're staying as on top of the new Apple Silicon developments as much as we can, but it's a good idea to read the article above and form your own opinions about how quickly you might migrate to one of these new machines.