Jamf Blog
November 30, 2020 by Jenn Valentine

Jamf makes integrations of Apple Silicon M1 chip devices smooth sailing

Apple's ARM-based M1 chip heralds enormous leaps in efficiency and speed of Apple devices. It also may create challenges for developers working on a universal binary for their apps, as well as for admins when integrating these new powerhouses into their existing fleets. Jamf is here to help.

Apple’s recent One More Thing event marked a monumental moment for Apple: the introduction of a custom, ARM-based system-on-a-chip, M1. It features Apple’s unified memory architecture (UMA) that unifies its high‑bandwidth, low‑latency memory into a single pool within a custom package. This allows different technologies to access the same data without copying it between multiple pools of memory, dramatically improving performance and power efficiency. The last time Apple made a significant processor change was in 2006, moving from PowerPC to Intel. This new chip allows users to enjoy a myriad of features, making the switch too good to resist:

  • Three times the performance per watt to past Apple devices
  • Two times the CPU speed
  • Best battery life ever on Mac
  • Two times the graphics speed than the very latest PC laptop chip

The switch to M1 sets up a common architecture, extending continuity between macOS, iOS and iPadOS applications -- seamlessly integrating them across Apple’s hardware ecosystem. However, as with any significant hardware transition, applications designed to run on one processor are unable to successfully run on another without either (1) breaking compatibility, (2) modifying source code, or (3) a translation process that keeps old applications running on the new architecture.

Enter Rosetta 2. Like the OG Rosetta (OG = original gangsta, for those not familiar with 90s hip hop) that allowed PowerPC software to run on Intel Macs. Rosetta 2 is a translation process that allows applications built for Intel-based Macs to run on the Apple silicon-based processor. Rosetta 2, available in macOS 11 Big Sur, boasts technological improvements that includes automatic translation of non-native apps upon installation and no longer interpreting code in real-time. What this really means is that it’s quite a bit more efficient at translating older software than the OG.

But like the saying goes, all good things come to an end. Rosetta 2 is temporary, giving developers a bridge as they adapt to the new M1 architecture and create a universal binary with two different compatibilities: one binary for Intel and one binary for M1’s ARM architecture. Apple’s documentation page reminds us that it’s “not a substitute for creating a native version of your app.” Also worth noting, Rosetta 2 is not installed in Big Sur by default and must be installed as an additional app.

But don’t fret. Jamf is here to help. Of all the Apple Enterprise Management providers in the market today, Jamf is the only one that was around to help organizations through the last Mac processor change.

For a first step, if you need Rosetta 2 on your Apple Silicon devices, Jamf Pro will help you get that deployed.

Jamf Pro and Jamf Protect are built with Universal binaries that natively support Macs with either Intel or Apple silicon processors. The universal binary ensures users achieve forward and backward compatibility on any application that supports their current OS version without relying on Rosetta 2 to aide as a translation layer. As a result, Jamf Products are current, more efficient and support the newest Macs immediately. Equally important, the Jamf Nation will see no change in behavior or functionality with any administrative or security tools running on either processor.

During this transitional period during which users will be using either M1-based Macs or Intel-based Macs, there are clear challenges ahead. App developers will have to focus on creating a universal binary and security developers have an even larger task at hand to adopt Apple’s framework in place of their age old usage of KEXTs.

Jamf can help surmount those challenges. Jamf Protect (mentioned in 5 Ways Jamf Secures macOS Big Sur) remains kextless -- preventing Mac-specific attacks without the need to install a kernel extension. And, regardless of Rosetta 2, Jamf Protect’s universal binary coupled with an already kextless interface makes Jamf Protect well suited to maintaining Apple-first endpoint security on all Macs, requiring no manual intervention or disruptions as M1-based Macs are added to the fleet.

At Jamf, we remain committed to making our customers successful with Apple and Jamf products. And with all these new capabilities, Jamf stands ready to help you manage, connect and protect.

Discover how Jamf Protect can help secure your Apple M1 devices.

Jenn Valentine
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