Thunderbolt 4 is on the menu of Intel’s latest announcements. This new generation of connectivity will make its entry directly into the Tiger Lake platform. Beyond its improved features, the Thunderbolt 4 seems to offer more clarity compared to the Thunderbolt 3. There are still some unanswered questions … for now
Thunderbolt 4 is on the menu of Intel’s latest announcements. This new generation of connectivity will make its entry directly into the Tiger Lake platform.
Beyond its improved features, the Thunderbolt 4 seems to offer more clarity compared to the Thunderbolt 3. There are still some unanswered questions … for now.
According to Techyguide Computer connectivity has been in upheaval… for many years now and it is not about to end. Between the democratization of USB-C, the arrival of USB4 and now the officialization of Thunderbolt 4, the future will not be entirely wireless.
But it is perhaps worth remembering what Thunderbolt is basically. Created by Intel and Apple, it is a very powerful multiprotocol connection which allows devices to be chained.
The first generation Thunderbolt, launched in 2011, allowed a maximum throughput of 10 Gbit / s for data transfer (PCI Express protocol) and the management of a 2560 x 1600 screen at 60 Hz (DisplayPort 1.1 protocol) .
Then there was the Thunderbolt 2 which doubled the data transfer rate with the management of 4K screens (DisplayPort 1.2). Then, the Thunderbolt 3 went to 40 Gbit / s of speed, with the management of two 4K screens at 60 Hz and especially the operation with the USB-C connector accompanied by the support of USB 3.1 (Gen 1 and 2).
WHAT IS THUNDERBOLT 4?
With Thunderbolt 4, Intel still offers one standard to rule them all. The future is always very complicated, in fact, and you probably won’t know what a USB-C connector can contain.
You will still have to squint on this connector which can support many USB specifications, including USB4 which supports Thunderbolt… Knowing that Thunderbolt also includes PCIe, Display Port and USB Power Delivery standards.
First, look for the little lightning bolt icon that means the port will support everything from USB 3.2 to USB4. You will also need a Thunderbolt 4 cable which should support all the necessary bandwidth. And don’t confuse USB4 with Thunderbolt 4.
Although Thunderbolt 4 and USB4 share the same underlying protocol, Thunderbolt 4 includes more compatibility requirements than USB4.
WHAT DOES THUNDERBOLT 4 DO?
The Thunderbolt 4 seeks to correct some of the problems of its predecessor, the Thunderbolt 3. For example, Thunderbolt 3 was supposed to provide enough bandwidth to drive two 4K displays at 60Hz or a single 8K monitor at 60Hz. Unfortunately, the requirements minimums resulted in abuse by builders and, therefore, complexity for users who could not do what they wanted.
Thunderbolt 4 is much more demanding, it is able to reach a transfer speed of 32 Gbit / s in PCIe and it is also fully USB4 compatible.
Thunderbolt 4 is also a selling point for Intel’s Tiger Lake platform. Thunderbolt 4 should be found relatively quickly on many Intel products, including ultrabooks via Intel’s Athena project. As a reminder, this project aims to develop lightweight laptops, with more comfortable autonomy and full connectivity.
Intel also evokes the new capacities of workstations (multi-interface docks) which will be able to accommodate up to 4 Thunderbolt 4 sockets without batting an eyelid. Finally, the cables will no longer be limited in length to 80 centimeters, Intel has planned cables up to 2 meters and later up to 5 meters in length.
Good news for manufacturers who resisted Power Delivery over USB-C. If a laptop manufacturer designs a computer that consumes less than 100 Watts, it will be obliged to offer charging via Thundebrolt 4 if it incorporates this connection.
WHEN IS THUNDERBOLT 4 COMING?
Thunderbolt 4 should arrive in the fall of 2020. Like Thunderbolt 3, it will certainly be confined to premium laptops and desktop PCs equipped with new generation Intel solutions.
WHAT ABOUT THUNDERBOLT 4 WITH AMD AND ARM?
Like Thunderbolt 3, it’s a safe bet that AMD shuns Thunderbolt 4. One of the requirements of Thunderbolt 4 is that a laptop manufacturer must support different protocols like direct memory access ( in English DMA for Direct Memory Access) based on Intel VT-d, a security measure that protects the system. Since VT-d based DMA is an Intel technology, this creates a barrier for AMD.
According to PCWorld , AMD believes that laptop manufacturers are not interested in this connection. AMD can nevertheless provide personalized solutions to its partners, they have already done this with the ASRock Phantom Gaming ITX TB3 motherboard which combines Thunderbolt 3 with an AMD X570 (Ryzen) chipset.
Note also that Intel remains open to its partners, they have designed independent TB4 controllers that can be used with AMD and ARM processors. Apple could therefore offer Thunderbolt 4 on its future Mac ARMs , if you were wondering.