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I am on my M1 Mac mini (Big Sur 11.3.1). I got a message that I am running out of RAM and should close some apps. I saw this process called qemu-system-aarch64 that takes up to 3GB of RAM. I don't know what it does and cannot stop it either. What is it and why does it eat up so much RAM?

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3 Answers 3

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This process belongs to an application you've installed yourself. To find out more, select the process in Activity Monitor and press Cmd-I to open the Process Information window. You should see the name of the process which started it at the top, and the path to the binary itself near the top of the 3rd tab (open files and ports).

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    OMG thanks! I never knew I could look into more info on running processes! What a useful command. I feel so stupid right now as the process is run by docker, which makes sense as I am a developer using it to run some containers.... duh
    – Redbeard
    May 12, 2021 at 6:32
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    @redbeard we all miss the seemingly obvious sometimes, glad I could help!
    – nohillside
    May 12, 2021 at 6:53
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    It's also worth noting that it's probably not actually using that much. In the Activity Monitor if you go "View -> Columns -> Real Memory". You might find it's using much less. Mine was showing 3.8GB used but really only using 60mb May 31, 2021 at 4:17
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    Mine is coming from Docker.app (M1 version) and I'm on M1 MacOS 11.4 Big Sur Jun 20, 2021 at 23:51
  • @AntonyThompson thank you for pointing out the "real memory" thing, can you explain the difference here or is there any reference that explain it in details? thank you again
    – Neekey
    Jul 16, 2021 at 22:25
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It was a Docker for Mac!

There is no clear name indication, that this is a Docker so you can't clearly spot it in the Activity Monitor

Stopping Docker releases the resources

Hint : It's possible to see process origin by hitting ⌘+I

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  • As it’s currently written, your answer is unclear. Please edit to add additional details that will help others understand how this addresses the question asked. You can find more information on how to write good answers in the help center.
    – Community Bot
    Sep 24, 2021 at 17:35
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    Yes, indeed it was docker. I guess this process is needed because of docker's support for multi-arch images. Dec 10, 2021 at 7:06
  • It's possible to see process origin by hitting +I
    – vladkras
    Feb 18 at 7:46
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I guess you are a developer and you are using some sort of Android emulator. I too have a Mac, and this process refers to the Android Studio emulator I use for debugging.

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  • Please note that the OP commented on the accepted answer that they are a developer and had installed Docker.
    – agarza
    Aug 19, 2021 at 3:00
  • But not everyone landing on the result will be a developer working with Docker. So this answer is just fine. There is no need to down vote. Oct 3, 2021 at 9:58
  • Indeed, on my machine it was also coming from the Android emulator.
    – riezebosch
    Nov 9, 2021 at 9:56

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