Apple Silicon virtual machines

Native virtualization has a “guest” OS with the same CPU architecture as the “host” physical CPU. Non-native emulation generally runs slower than native virtualization. Non-native virtualization means a host computer (such as Apple Silicon) can emulate any supported CPU architecture. Apple Silicon is ARM64, but with virtualization such as UTM / QEMU the Apple Silicon CPU can emulate ARM32, x86_64, MIPS, RISC-V, PowerPC, and more within the container.

QEMU emulator is available on Homebrew for Apple Silicon and can emulate a different CPU architecture or run native architecture at nearly full performance. UTM is a containerized emulation based off of QEMU for iOS and macOS–like QEMU, the same CPU architecture is virtualized at near full performance, while non-native virtualization is emulated with slower performance. When creating a new virtual machine in UTM, the first questions include whether the VM will be virtualized (native) or emulated (non-native) and the CPU architecture. UTM works with native virtualized Windows 11 for ARM, Linux, and emulates many architectures, even old PowerPC macOS guest images.

VirtualBox is an open-source native virtualization application that generally targets x86_64 CPUs. VirtualBox “Developer Preview” for Apple Silicon is available from the Nightly Builds as “macOS/ARM64 BETA”. The Oracle developer notes that the VirtualBox Apple Silicon beta is not yet ready for production use.

Commercial paid Apple Silicon virtualization: these native virtualization applications are not open-source. They run native virtual machines on Apple Silicon including Windows 11 ARM.

  • Parallels is paid-only software
  • VMWare Fusion is paid software, but has a no-cost personal-use license for home users.