It’s a lot more than 3 versions. It’s not uncommon for developers to now support on Windows: VST 32 bit, VST 64 bit, VST3 32 bit, VST3 64 bit, AAX 32 bit, AAX 64 bit. And then on Mac: VST 64 bit, VST3 64 bit, AAX 64, AU 64 bit. So even before the M1 macs, a developer could be supporting 10 builds of each plugin. Maybe 14 if they still offer 32 bit Mac plugins.
M1 adds VST, VST3 and AU M1 builds, and probably AAX in the future. Yes, this is a nightmare for developers. And it’s something they should have already figured out how to manage before M1 came along. This means an automated build process, projects generated by cmake or projucer, all CPU specific features behind an abstraction layer like SIMDEverywhere.
So when M1 came a long, it should have been as simple as adding another architecture to a makefile, running builds and new plugins appear. In practice it wasn’t that simple, for example I had to replace all my Intel Performance Primitives FFTs with KFRlib. I had to drop some features since the required libraries don’t exist for M1 yet (REX).
Apple is still selling Intel Macs, and they support their machines for around 10 years, so I think supporting Intel Macs is going to be something we need to do for at least 10 years.
I image most developers will still support Intel Macs as long as the latest Xcode supports them, once it doesn’t, that’s when developers will probably think the deadache isn’t worth it.
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