Apple silicon Macs: 9 considerations for IT

Apple’s shift to customized ARM processors in its newest Mac models gives IT several things to consider when planning Mac purchases.

apple m1 processor chip

Last week, Apple unveiled new versions of the MacBook Air, MacBook Pro and Mac mini running on Apple silicon, the name Apple has given its in-house designed processors and other chips. The new Macs are powered by the M1 system-on-a-chip, an ARM-based processor that combines components typically found in discrete chips in most PCs and previous Intel-based Macs.

The new M1 chip offers incredible performance and battery life as well as instant wake from sleep. It also brings the ability to run iOS and iPadOS apps on the desktop for the first time. These Macs are the outcome of years of work behind the scenes at Apple and the most significant change Apple has made to any of its platforms in many years.

Apple has plenty of history with managing major hardware changes, some better than others, including two processor transitions for the Mac, the most recent being its transition from its own PowerPC chips to Intel processors. Apple began shipping the first Intel-based Macs in 2006 and eventually dropped support for the PowerPC architecture with the release of OS X 10.6 “Snow Leopard” in 2009, effectively ending the transition away from PowerPC Macs. (PowerPC Macs continued to be functional, of course, but couldn’t upgrade to newer versions of OS X.)

A lot has changed since in the intervening decade and a half. Apple is a substantially stronger company with incredible resources to devote to hardware and software development, and the company's products are no longer foreign to most workplaces or IT professionals. That raises a big question: how will this transition impact your organization? Most importantly, how will it upset the typical purchase and refresh cycles that your IT teams and employees rely on?

Here’s a list of considerations to help you decide if and when to begin moving your users to the new hardware.

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