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New electronic release supports new Apple silicon chips




The Electron team recently released the 11th iteration of the popular cross-platform native desktop application framework. Electron 11 introduces support for the new Apple Silicon Hardware (Darwin arm64). Electron 11 will also update versions of Chromium, Node, and its JavaScript engine.

The Electron team has announced support for running Electron apps on the new Apple Silicon hardware.

With the release of Electron 11.0.0-beta.1, the Electron team is shipping builds of Electron running on the new Apple Silicon hardware that Apple plans to ship later this year. You can get the latest beta version using npm install electronic @ beta or download it directly from the release website.

Electron 11 has two new builds, darwin-arm64 and mas-arm64. These are Apple Silicones equivalent to previous Electron builds for Intel Mac hardware. Developers need to publish two versions of their Electron application. One is for the x64 architecture (Intel Mac) and the other is for the arm64 architecture (Apple Silicon). To that end, developers can use electron-packager, electron-rebuild, and electron-forge packages that already support targeting the arm64 architecture. Electron Packager helps developers customize and package Electron apps with OS-specific bundles (.app, .exe, etc.). Electron Forge helps developers create, publish, and install the latest Electron applications.

The Electron team recommends that developers ship native arm64 builds of Electron applications instead of using Rosetta2 to run x64 Intel applications on arm64 Apple silicon hardware. The release notes describe the performance implications of using Rosetta.

The performance of the app will be significantly reduced. Electron / V8 uses JIT compilation for JavaScript, and Rosetta works to effectively run JIT twice (once in V8 and once in Rosetta). You lose the benefits of Apple Silicon’s new technology, such as increased memory page size. Did you mention that the performance will be significantly reduced?

Electron 11 also uses Chromium 87.0.4280.47, the JavaScript runtime node v12.18.3, and the JavaScript engine V8 v8.7. This release contains a number of bug fixes and performance improvements. Some experimental APIs have also been removed in this release.

In June 2020, Apple announced the move from Intel x86-64 to an in-house chip that uses the arm64 architecture. It may take up to two years for the migration to complete. The hardware architecture migration is the third in Apple’s history (from Motorola 68000 to PowerPC, Intel x86, arm64). In November 2020, Apple announced the first Mac based on the Apple Silicon Processor. Developers may prefer to compile native arm64 apps rather than relying on Rosetta 2 emulation for performance and support purposes. Apple has abolished the original Rosetta (PowerPC emulation at Intel) after just three generations of operating systems.

Electron is an open source framework for creating native applications using web technologies such as JavaScript, HTML and CSS. Electron was first developed by GitHub in 2013 to allow JavaScript developers to build desktop apps that run on Windows, Mac, and Linux computers. Last year, Electron joined the OpenJS Foundation.

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