Apple changed its CPU architecture. Again. And all I could do is order one of their devices right after they announced it. I needed new hardware anyway. One always needs a good excuse.
I am using the M1 chip for over a month now. Overall I am satisfied. I chose the MacBook Pro with 16 GB unified memory and a 512 GB hard drive. I was using an Intel Core i7 4790 CPU with a very fast NVMe SSD and 16 GB of ram.
Because I got the device so quickly after the keynote, much of my software did not work natively. Thanks to Rosetta 2 this isn’t a problem. Most of the software built for x86_64 just works. And performance is “good enough”. But you don’t order a Mac with the M1 chip to get “good enough” performance.
I’m a Java developer, so first I wanted to install a JDK. For my project I required a JDK 8 with FX. At work, I use a JDK from Bell Soft (Liberica JDK). At home, I prefer an Oracle JDK.
I downloaded an Oracle JDK 1.8 with JavaFX built-in. This JDK was built for the x86_64 Intel CPU architecture. Thanks to Rosetta 2 it’s not a problem. Even with Rosetta 2 the performance was better compared to my previous system. Much better even.
A word about performance. I can’t seriously measure performance. I can only say it’s “faster” than my previous system. One thing Apple emphasized was its superfast Safari web browser. I’m not so sure.
My first Safari experience was bad. I normally use AdGuard as my ad blocker (for iOS) but with Bug Sur 11 (oops, typo) AdGuard simply didn’t work. I then used 1Blocker which slowed Safari down over time. It was a known and now fixed bug. Safari without an ad blocker is unusable.
But back to my needs. Java. I had my JDK installed successfully and now wanted to install my IDE of choice: IntelliJ.
IntelliJ worked from day 1 but only with Rosetta 2. Text rendering was very slow. I could work with it, but it felt very slow. As of today IntelliJ is providing support for the M1 chip, and it’s working perfectly.
Netbeans? No native support at all.
Eclipse? Regarding their mailing list, they are still looking for M1 devices. Really? :/
Azul is providing native aarch64 Java JDKs for macOS Big Sur down to Java 1.8. And you might not believe who is in bed with Azul. Microsoft is. Microsoft was actively trying to get a working JDK for macOS Big Sur aarch64 long before Apple was shipping devices to customers.
So what about C#? I’m at least a very interested person in C#. However, on macOS Big Sur aarch64 you will be out of luck. .NET 5 is working with Rosetta 2 except the debugger. Debugging doesn’t work with .NET 5 which is a showstopper.
And don’t expect this to be fixed any time soon. In the GitHub issue tracker Microsoft is telling that Rosetta 2 compatibility for .NET 5 is to be expected in November 2021. Yes, 2021. And this is the timeline for Rosetta 2 compatibility only. Even further Microsoft isn’t going to support .NET 5 natively on Big Sur aarch64 at all.
They do want to support .NET 6 natively on macOS Big Sur aarch64. However, their timeline for this the end of 2021 as well.
Microsoft: Java? Yay. Microsoft: C#? Nay.
Also Microsoft: here is Edge natively for the M1 chip.
I can’t say how things are working out in other areas like JS, Python, etc…
But for the time being I wouldn’t recommend an Apple M1 device for development purposes. Except you want to port something to M1 of course.
My MacBook Pro is, however, a nice device. The fan never spins except I run Cine bench. I installed Cine bench just because I believed my fan was broken. It just never turned on. The MacBook Pro never gets hot.
The keyboard is okish. I am used to the ThinkPad T470 keyboard. It’s better than the Apple one. The Apple keyboard is quite chatty. I prefer quiet keyboards. Chatty = cheap for me. I have another, very cheap, laptop with a similar chatty keyboard. The battery is superb, the screen as well. The touchpad? Still the best. Every other touchpad is driving me crazy. The touchpad on the MacBook is even better than this shitty MagicMouse 2. This MagicMouse 2 is laggy and disconnects at least once a day. It’s crap, pure garbage. Please get a proper mouse instead (if you need one).
I stopped using Apple desktop devices in, ehm, 2013?! … and Finder is still utter garbage. Seriously, WTF? :)
Overall I’m satisfied.