The M1 / Apple Silicon CPUs that commenced roll-out late 2020 are based on ARM (Advanced RISC Machine) architecture. This is the same architecture used in their iPhone and iPads. This is a complete architecture change from Intel (x86 and x64) CPUs. It means all software written for Intel CPUs does not run natively on ARM CPUs.
Apple has provided a stop-gap solution they called Rosetta 2. This is Apple's automated software translation system for Apple Silicon. In essence Rosetta 2 translates Intel code from x86 to ARM instruction code at the time of installation. It's basically swapping functions unique to x86 CPUs to the ARM equivalents. Translation is an inexact science.
FL Studio versions PRIOR to FL Studio 20.8 will not run under Rosetta 2 because they contain Assembly code that Rosetta 2 does not recognize and can't translate.
However, a Rosetta 2 installation will not be as performant as a native Apple Silicon (ARM architecture) code. Depending on the plugin/s and settings used your experience will vary. In response, we are actively developing a version of FL Studio that is native to this architecture.
We plan to release the native version of FL Studio in Q1 2021. However this should not be seen as any guarantee, just that we are working on it and as fast as we can.
If you are using or considering making the switch to Apple Silicon (M1) devices, it is important to have your expectations in check. Initial software compatibility, stability and performance is patchy.
While most legacy software should install under Rosetta 2 software from this base will often not be as performant as on the Intel hardware for which it was developed.
All DAW and music software will likely be specifically impacted for early adopters of ARM based computers. Unlike simple web-browsers, word editors and other similar applications, DAW software is based on highly optimized code that must run in real-time, without glitches to the audio. This code is necessarily low-level and will take some time to perfect, even after its up and running.
Furthermore, the ecosystem of 3rd party VST and AU plugins is vast. These cover an almost infinite spectrum of developers, resources and talent. Many plugins you, probably, take for granted may never work on, or at least smoothly on Apple Silicon (ARM).
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