AppleM1 and HighDesign

Apple Silicon, Big Sur and HighDesign

In its November 10th 2020 event, Apple unveiled the first machines using their own ARM-based M1 chip. While the exterior design was overall left unchanged – and that is a good thing, why change something that is good just for the sake of change? – the machines internal components are impressive. A week after the launch, the first benchmarks have basically confirmed Apple’s claims: not only the new chip is way faster than the previous Intel-based MacBooks, but Cinebench benchmarks show performance superior to the top Intel hardware in multi- and single core tasks.

This is excellent news for CAD-BIM applications such as HighDesign. Computer-aided design requires both heavy mathematical power (CPU) and fast graphics-processing units (GPU). The new Apple M1 chip provides both, making the Mac once again the ideal platform for architects, engineers and designers.

Now, the next excellent news is that all HighDesign will require to run natively on the new Apple hardware is just about a switch in the build target. Translated from programmer’s idiom, that means that a ARM-64 native version of HighDesign will be available very soon, most likely before the end of 2020.

Next year, we will also work on multi-core support for some critical tasks that require more processing power.

The other announcement made by Apple was about the new macOS Big Sur, which takes full advantage of the new hardware and introduces a new user interface. Here at ILEXSOFT we’ve been working on Big Sur betas since its announcement in June, and our impressions are very positive. The new system takes the Mac into the new decade with some genuine, and most importantly, useful improvements while at the same time retaining the familiar macOS spirit.

HighDesign on macOS Big Sur
HighDesign R5.4 on macOS Big Sur

The next update, HighDesign R5.4, introduces UI refinements that make it completely at home in macOS Big Sur. Aside from that, during these intense months of the Covid-19 pandemic (we’re all safe and sound, by the way), we’ve worked on this release to improve three major areas: speed, documentation features and productivity.

The new HighDesign R5.4 will be faster than its predecessors by orders of magnitude: redraw, file open and save, select and delete have been optimised for speed and memory efficiency, with great results.

The other areas of improvement are project documentation, with new tools and features for texts, dimensions, viewports and layouts, and overall productivity: we’ve added more shortcuts and customisation options, streamlined some commands and menus. The list of new and improved features is indeed long.

We’ve also addressed bugs and behaviours that could slow down your work in some circumstances, and worked hard on stability and reliability.

Overall, we’re very excited at the news in this last quarter of the year and can’t wait to get this new version in your hands.

To learn more about HighDesign R5 and download a free trial, visit

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