MacBook Air running M1 games and applications written for Windows

To do this, you need to spend a little more.

The CodeWeavers project reported that it could run applications and games written specifically for Windows x86 on a MacBook Air with an M1 chip. Below I will explain what it is if suddenly you do not understand any of these words.

The specialists managed to launch the Quicken application for working with finance, the Windows version of Among Us. Where you can safely use the mouse or cursor, and the Team Fortress 2 game using CrossOver. The gameplay of the latter is captured on video:

Here you need to add two tablespoons of ointment. First, the game sags in the frame rate, clearly visible when the player has jumped into the water. Secondly, Team Fortress 2 was released in 2007. However, it should be borne in mind that since then, the game has received two huge graphics patches, so the game is newer.

However, that doesn’t stop the CrossOver development team from admiring the new MacBooks and their Apple M1 system-on-a-chip. There are several reasons for this.

The test used the simplest MacBook Air at $ 999 (pre-tax price). It has 8GB of RAM, a 256GB SSD, and a GPU that’s part of the M1, which has seven rather than eight cores. 

A 32-bit binary written under Windows Intel is translated by Wine to 64-bit. CrossOver, installed in macOS Big Sur on an ARM chip, emulates the x86 architecture. And it all works!

For some reason, the CrossOver developers forgot to mention that one crucial thing is involved in the process – the Rosetta 2 translator built into the ARM version of Big Sur. It is with its help that CrossOver is launched on M1. However, this translator takes up about 20% of the original power of the M1. CrossOver also takes up some of the power. It’s fantastic that Windows applications can be used at all! And yet, they work well.

The launch was carried out on the beta version of macOS Big Sur 11.1, which was released yesterday. In it, Apple made significant improvements to Rosetta 2, making the program more efficient.

Clarifications

Direct launch of applications written for Windows on macOS is not possible. Wine software is used for this. It allows you to run applications written for 16-, 32- or 64-bit Windows without installing this operating system on your computer.

CrossOver is one such Wine application. It runs Windows applications on macOS when other Wine applications can do so on Linux and other UNIX-like operating systems.

However, difficulties arise here: macOS on computers with Intel processors and macOS on Apple’s chips are different versions of operating systems since they are written for other architectures.

Intel processors use x86 architecture, while Apple M1 system-on-chip uses ARM. Therefore, the new MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, or Mac mini is more like your smartphones or tablets than the traditional computer.

The difference is that each processor / system-on-a-chip executes a different set of instructions. I’ll simplify as much as possible now, but the logic is like this: you have, for example, the number 7. It would help if you arrived at it by adding unknown numbers. Suppose the x86 processor considers addition 6 and 1 as the main option, while ARM will call the other option a priority. For example, 5 + 2. Or 4 + 1 + 2. The result will be the same, but the way to achieve it is different.

I emphasize once again that this is the most simplified example. It is intended for readers who need the simplest explanation of the architecture difference without technical details.

Rosetta 2 is required to run old macOS applications on new macOS written for ARM computers. It is built into the ARM version of MacBook Air, Pro, or Mac mini and automatically transcribes x86 code to ARM.

Neither Wine nor Rosetta 2 are emulators, as emulators translate code in real-time. And usually, such translation requires a lot of computer resources. Therefore, the first launch of old applications takes a long time but allows you to use the application without much resource consumption.

Source: CodeWeavers

 

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