Posted on 13 November 2020. Scroll down for news of the latest applications to support M1 chips.
CG software developers have begun to announce support for Apple’s M1 chip, the first of the firm’s Apple Silicon processors, due to ship next week in its new MacBook Pro, MacBook Air and Mac mini systems.
Animation, post-production and design applications already compatible with the M1 chips include Maxon’s Cinema 4D, Blackmagic Design’s DaVinci Resolve, and Serif’s Affinity Photo, Designer and Publisher.
An M1-compatible version of Otoy’s Octane X renderer will be available “in tandem” with the new Macs, and Apple announced that Adobe will support the M1 in Lightroom next month, and Photoshop next year.
The first Apple Silicon chip promises the ‘world’s fastest integrated graphics’
The M1 is the first of the new Apple Silicon processors: the new ARM-based SoCs that will replace Intel processors in the firm’s laptops and desktop Macs.
It features both an eight-core CPU and integrated graphics, and will become available in Apple’s new 13-inch MacBook Pro, new MacBook Air and Mac mini, all due to ship “from next week”.
Apple claims that it offers the “world’s fastest integrated graphics in a personal computer” and the “world’s best CPU performance per Watt”.
There are some caveats about how that will translate to serious CG work, which we’ll address at the end of this story, but first: which CG applications are actually supporting the M1 chip at launch?
Unsurprisingly, Apple is supporting the M1 in its own software, including editing tool Final Cut Pro, noting on its website that “every app that comes with Mac, and every app made by Apple, is optimised for M1”.
Maxon has been quick out of the gate, touting Cinema 4D as the “first professional 3D animation tool available for the new Macs”. Cinema 4D R23 SP1 is available now, and is a free update for existing users.
Maxon also supports the M1 in version 23 of Cinebench, its free CPU benchmarking tool.
Serif supports the M1 chip in version 1.8.6 of its Affinity tools: image editing app Affinity Photo, vector design software Affinity Designer and desktop publishing system Affinity Publisher.
All three updates are available now and again, are free to existing users.
Blackmagic Design has also released an M1-compatible version of DaVinci Resolve, its colour grading and editing software, in beta. The base edition is free.
Otoy has announced in a tweet that it will have an M1-compatible version of Octane X, the new Metal-native version of OctaneRender, its GPU renderer.
Unity Technologies is also supporting the M1 GPU in its Unity game engine.
Once again, the relevant release, Unity 2020.2, is still in beta, and Unity has confirmed that the M1 is currently only supported by the Unity player, not the Unity Editor itself.
Adobe will support the M1 in at least some of its software, but not at launch.
Apple announced during its livestream that the new version of Lightroom capable of running on Apple Silicon hardware will ship “next month”, with a compatible version of Photoshop to follow “early next year”.
Work on supporting M1 processors in After Effects and Character Animator will also begin in 2021.
Although Apple also featured Autodesk software in its livestreams – Fusion 360 this week and Maya in its original Apple Silicon announcement – it wasn’t for its native M1 support.
Both were cited as examples of how applications can run on the new Macs via Rosetta, Apple’s new translation environment. At the time of writing, there is no news about native versions.
In addition, Procreate 5.2, the upcoming version of Savage Interactive’s popular iPad painting and sketching app, will feature native M1 support when the chip reaches Apple’s new iPad Pros.
In addition, Godot 3.3, the latest version of the open-source game engine, features native M1 support.
A note of caution
It’s also worth noting that, as a processor being rolled out in laptops and consumer desktops, the M1 isn’t necessarily the Apple Silicon chip that will lend itself best to hardcore CG work.
Firstly, according to the big tech news sites, RAM is limited to 16GB, shared between CPU and graphics.
Secondly, the M1’s integrated graphics are the only GPU compute capability available in the new Macs, and since they don’t support eGPUs, there’s no way to extend that.
The footnotes to Apple’s announcement that the M1 has the “world’s fastest integrated graphics in a personal computer” are also pretty vague.
They note that the claim is based on “selected industry-standard benchmarks” and compares the M1 to “high-performing CPUs”, but provide no further details.
So far, the only independent tests we’ve seen use general computing benchmarks like GeekBench, so it will be interesting to see how that translates to CG apps when the new machines ship next week.
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