Apple Silicon: The Next Generation of Mac Computers

At the annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC2020), Apple announced the release of a brand new processor technology called Apple Silicon.

In this blog post, we’ll introduce you to this new technology and tell you about our plans to smoothly transition your 4D applications to Silicon.

Why Silicon?

With Silicon, Apple will integrate the same ARM technology used on the iPhone and iPad which will bring many improvements over current Intel processors:

  • new GPU for better graphics,
  • integrated Neural Engine and machine learning capabilities,
  • better security thanks to the Secure Enclave,
  • industry-leading performances,
  • improved battery consumption,
  • and much more!


4D’s plan

Here at 4D, we were elated by this news and immediately ordered our Developer Transition Kit (DTK). The DTK is a machine Apple lends to developers to test and update their products. Simply put, it’s a MacMini with a 4th generation iPad Pro processor, running beta versions of macOS 11 Big Sur and XCode 12.

Once we received the DTK, we first tested how 4D v18 runs with Rosetta. Rosetta is a tool Apple provides to ease the transition (completely invisible to the user). It’s an execution environment allowing applications built for Intel Macs to work on Silicon. We were thrilled to see that 4D was running smoothly, with performances similar to a native version.

So far, we’ve only found an issue with web areas. Internally, we use Chromium (the library Google uses to display web pages in Chrome). Unfortunately, Chromium isn’t compatible with Rosetta. Google is already working on a fix and we’ll update 4D as soon as they’ve released a compatible version. Other than web areas, we’ve had no issues running our 4D applications on Silicon.

The following step in this transition is to build a native version of 4D. We’re already constituting a team of developers to work on this considerable task.

What’s next?

Our goal is to be ready as early as possible to ensure a clean transition to the new platforms.

According to the WWDC 2020 Special Event: Apple plans to release the first Silicon machines at the end of 2020 (macOS 11 Big Sur will be released a few months earlier). Apple will continue to support Intel technology for years to come since there are still Intel-based Macs in the pipeline that should be released in the coming months. The transition from Intel to Silicon is expected to take 2 years.

If you want to know more about Silicon, just follow the link to this part of the WWDC 2020 Special Event Keynote.

We’ll publish updates regularly on the blog to keep you updated.

Stay tuned!

Nicolas Brachfogel
Product Owner & Senior Developer - Nicolas Brachfogel joined 4D in 2017 as senior developer (4D Server and networking) and as Product Owner to manage the 4D version on Apple Silicon. He is tasked with the redaction of user stories and functional specifications, as well as the verification that the new features are in line with customers' needs. With a degree from Institut Supérieur d'Informatique Appliquée Paris (INSIA), Nicolas started his career as a software developer in 2001. After many years of development in Java and C++, he specialized himself in client-server development in the video game industry. As a developer/software architect, he worked on the server architectures of many games (Dofus Arena, Drakerz, Trivial Pursuit Go !).