Intel’s Thunderbolt 4 Standard Ups Ante For USB-C Devices

    Intel has unveiled details of its impending Thunderbolt 4 connection standard, which is slated to be built of top of the also upcoming USB4 specification.

    The recently announced spec is not technically faster in terms of maximum speed – like Thunderbolt 3, Thunderbolt 4 supports a maximum speed of up to 40 Gbps. While Intel hasn’t introduced a significant upgrade in terms of specification, the technology giant is launching other improvements with the new standard, introducing multi-port hubs support, high video and data requirements.

    Thunderbolt 4 computers will either need to support two 4K displays or one 8K display, along with up to 32 Gbps of PCIe data transfer speeds, which is double the earlier minimum requirements from Thunderbolt 3. Aside from that, the new standard will support Thunderbolt 4 docks and monitors with up to four Thunderbolt 4 ports, while Thunderbolt 3 devices offered a maximum of two ports.

    On top of that, Intel will be integrating stricter hardware requirements that are likely to enhance overall Thunderbolt 4 laptops using experience. The new standard requires manufacturers of thin and light laptops, that require less than 100W of power for charging to offer USB-C charging based on Thunderbolt 4 on at least one port, and Thunderbolt 4 laptops will need to be able to be woken up from sleep mode using a mouse or keyboard that will be connected via a Thunderbolt dock.

    The overhauled specs come in the wake of USB-IF (USB Implementers Forum) gearing up to release the standard USB4 specification, which is expected to offer several previously-existing benefits (such as 40 Gbps transfer speed) of the Thunderbolt 3 standard to an open standard, that won’t charge you licensing fees. It is worth noting that Thunderbolt cables and accessories carry steeper price tags as compared to regular USB-C devices due to the higher hardware requirements. The first accessories and computers with Thunderbolt 4 ports are likely to hit the store shelves later this year.


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