Apple began migrating its laptop and desktop Mac computers to run on 'Apple silicon' in late 2020. Starting with the M1 CPU, this processor family is based on what is more technically known as ARM (Advanced RISC Machine) architecture. This is the same CPU architecture as used in their iPhone and iPad products. Since ARM is a complete change from the Intel (x64) CPUs previously used in Mac computers, software written for Intel CPUs does not run 'natively' on 'Apple silicon'.
Versions prior to FL Studio 20.8.1 do not work correctly on Apple silicon (M1) powered Macs. For the best experience please update to FL Studio 20.8.2 or later when using Apple silicon powered Macs.
SOLUTION 1 - ROSETTA 2
When software compiled for Intel CPUs is installed on an Apple silicon Mac, Rosetta 2 background-translates code from x64 instructions to ARM. This is essentially an automated 'search and replace' operation that creates a new run-time binary file. Rosetta 2 works remarkably well, most of the time, but there are some things it can't handle. In response, we have specifically optimised FL Studio 20.8.2 and higher, to translate correctly under Rosetta 2. In short, expect good performance with FL Studio. However also check each 3rd party plugin you are using is compatible and is updated to run on Apple silicon.
SOLUTION 2 - NATIVE ARM CODE
Apple will eventually stop supporting Rosetta 2 which also does not optimize performance compared to native code. So we are working on a native ARM version of FL Studio, expected to release sometime in Q2/3 2021. However, this should not be seen as a guarantee about the release date, just that we are working on it and will release it as soon as we can. Expect even better CPU performance when this version arrives.
ABOUT THE APPLE SILICON ECOSYSTEM
All DAW, plugin and peripheral device manufacturers are similarly impacted by this change. If you are using or considering making the switch to Apple silicon devices, it is important to have your expectations in check. Initial software compatibility, stability and performance is patchy across device and software manufacturers. Apple has tipped both software and hardware developers on their head, and it will take some time for native Apple silicon support to become commonplace.
We look forward to the future and seeing where Apple silicon can take the competition amongst CPU vendors. The more CPU performance you have, the more you can do. However, we appreciate your patience while we work through the issues and deliver the FL Studio performance you expect.
We will make future announcements in this article as the project unfolds.
Image-Line Support Team