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      Apple’s M1 is a fast CPU—but M1 Macs “feel” even faster due to QoS

      Jim Salter · / ArsTechnica · Monday, 17 May, 2021 - 20:09 · 1 minute

    Multiple Apple promotional images are piled on each other.

    Enlarge / The Apple M1 is a world-class processor—but it feels even faster than its already-great specs imply. Howard Oakley did a deep-dive investigation to find out why. (credit: SOPA Images via Getty )

    Apple's M1 processor is a world-class desktop and laptop processor—but when it comes to general-purpose end-user systems, there's something even better than being fast. We're referring, of course, to feeling fast—which has more to do with a system meeting user expectations predictably and reliably than it does with raw speed.

    Howard Oakley—author of several Mac-native utilities such as Cormorant, Spundle, and Stibium—did some digging to find out why his M1 Mac felt faster than Intel Macs did, and he came to the conclusion that the answer is QoS. If you're not familiar with the term, it expands to Quality of Service—and it's all about task scheduling.

    More throughput doesn’t always mean happier users

    There's a very common tendency to equate "performance" with throughput—roughly speaking, tasks accomplished per unit of time. Although throughput is generally the easiest metric to measure, it doesn't correspond very well with human perception. What humans generally notice isn't throughput, it's latency—not the number of times a task can be accomplished, but the time it takes to complete an individual task.

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      Apple M1-native malware has already begun to appear

      Jim Salter · / ArsTechnica · Wednesday, 17 February, 2021 - 18:31 · 1 minute

    A stylish emblem which reads

    Enlarge / GoSearch22 isn't, technically speaking, any sort of "virus." But it's certainly not anything you'd want on your shiny new M1 Mac. (credit: Pete Linforth )

    Last year, Apple released Macbooks and Mac Minis powered by a new ARM CPU—the Apple M1. A few months later, malware authors are already targeting the new hardware directly. Wired interviewed Mac security research Patrick Wardle, who discovered an M1-native version of the long-running, Mac-targeted Pirrit adware family.

    Apple M1, malware, and you

    ARM CPUs have a very different Instruction Set Architecture (ISA) than traditional x86 desktop and laptop CPUs do, which means that software designed for one ISA can't run on the other without help. M1 Macs can run x86 software with a translation layer called Rosetta, but native M1 apps of course run much faster—as we can see by comparing Rosetta-translated Google Chrome to the M1 native version.

    When it comes to malware, Apple users have long benefited from the minority status of their platform. Ten years ago, macOS's operating system market share was only 6.5 percent, and few malware authors bothered to target it at all—but today, that market share is approaching 20 percent. That increase in popularity has brought malware vendors along with it; the macOS malware ecosystem is still tiny and relatively crude compared to the one plaguing Windows, but it's very real.

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      Mac utility Homebrew finally gets native Apple Silicon and M1 support

      Samuel Axon · / ArsTechnica · Friday, 5 February, 2021 - 21:47

    Users can install Homebrew via the Terminal in macOS.

    Enlarge / Users can install Homebrew via the Terminal in macOS. (credit: Samuel Axon)

    Popular Mac tool Homebrew has long been used by developers and others for package management on macOS, but as we lamented in our first M1 Mac review, it didn't support Apple Silicon when Apple's new Macs first launched late last year. Now, with the release of Homebrew 3.0.0, that's no longer the case: Homebrew now supports Apple Silicon natively, albeit not with every package.

    The volunteer Homebrew team made the announcement on the Homebrew blog alongside today's release. While the native support is not yet comprehensive, it bridges the gap significantly, and users can still run Terminal via Rosetta 2 to do what they can't yet while running natively on Apple Silicon. The Homebrew blog post says "we welcome your help" in providing bottles for all packages moving forward.

    Here's the full bullet point on Apple Silicon in the Homebrew 3.0.0 release notes:

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      Linus Torvalds doubts Linux will get ported to Apple M1 hardware

      Jim Salter · / ArsTechnica · Saturday, 28 November, 2020 - 14:15

    It would be great to see Linux running and fully operational on Apple M1 hardware like this Mac Mini—but it seems unlikely to happen.

    Enlarge / It would be great to see Linux running and fully operational on Apple M1 hardware like this Mac Mini—but it seems unlikely to happen. (credit: Produnis / Jim Salter )

    In a recent post on the Real World Technologies forum—one of the few public internet venues Linux founder Linus Torvalds is known to regularly visit—a user named Paul asked Torvalds, "What do you think of the new Apple laptop?"

    "I'd absolutely love to have one, if it just ran Linux," Torvalds replied. "I've been waiting for an ARM laptop that can run Linux for a long time. The new [Macbook] Air would be almost perfect, except for the OS."

    Torvalds, of course, can already have an ARM based Linux laptop if he wants one—for example, the Pinebook Pro . The unspoken part here is that he'd like a high-performance ARM based laptop, rather than a budget-friendly but extremely performance constrained design such as one finds in the Pinebook Pro, the Raspberry Pi, or a legion of other inexpensive gadgets.

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      Hands-on with the Apple M1—a seriously fast x86 competitor

      Jim Salter · / ArsTechnica · Tuesday, 17 November, 2020 - 14:00 · 1 minute


    Enlarge / Apple's new octa-core ARM big/little CPU is putting its high performance x86 competition on notice. (credit: Apple)

    There's a lot of understandable excitement around Apple's ARM-powered devices right now. And we've got traditional reviews of those devices and their ecosystems , for Apple fans and the Apple-curious. This is not one of those reviews—though reviews are coming imminently for some of the new Macs. Instead, we're going to take a closer look at the raw performance of the new M1 in comparison to more traditional x86 systems.

    The M1's CPU is a 5nm octa-core big/little design, with four performance cores and four efficiency cores. The idea is that user-focused foreground tasks, which demand low latency, will be run on the performance cores—but less latency-sensitive background tasks can run slower and lower on the four less-powerful but less power-consumptive efficiency cores.

    In addition to the eight CPU cores, the version of the M1 in the Mac mini has eight GPU cores, with a total of 128 Execution Units. Although it's extremely difficult to get accurate Apples-to-non-Apples benchmarks on this new architecture, I feel confident in saying that this truly is a world-leading design—you can get faster raw CPU performance, but only on power-is-no-object desktop or server CPUs. Similarly, you can beat the M1's GPU with high-end Nvidia or Radeon desktop cards—but only at a massive disparity in power, physical size, and heat.

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