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You can run a SQL Server Docker container on Apple M1 and M2 Silicon

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Previously the only way to run SQL Server on Apple Silicon was via QEMU emulation or Colima (hat tip to Anthony Nocentino).

Docker released beta support today for Apple’s Rosetta 2 x86 emulation layer, which means you can run SQL Server on Apple M1 or Apple M2 silicon using this option.

  1. Download and install the latest Docker for Apple Silicon
  2. Once Docker Desktop is running, open the Dashboard and go into Settings
  3. Find the “Features in development” option, and select the “Use Rosetta for x86/amd64 emulation on Apple Silicon” checkbox
  4. Restart the Docker engine
  5. Follow the instructions on Quickstart: Run SQL Server Linux container images with Docker to install SQL Server
  6. You can ignore the warning that the “requested image’s platform (linux/amd64) does not match the detected host platform”


How’s the performance?

I have an M1 Max MacBook Pro with 64 GB RAM. Using scripts from my Temporal Tables presentation, performance was about the same as my last Intel-based MacBook Pro, which had 64 GB RAM as well. This matches my previous experience with Rosetta 2 emulation in general. This also means that Anthony Nocentino should see similar results using Colima.

Full disclosure: I work for Microsoft on the Database Docs team. This technique is not officially supported by Microsoft.