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What is Thunderbolt 4 and when will we use it?

What is Thunderbolt 4, features, release date, comparison with Thunderbolt 3
What is Thunderbolt 4, features, release date, comparison with Thunderbolt 3

Intel makes the Thunderbolt 4 standard official, so we explained what is it, release date and the features of the new connection.

What is Thunderbolt 4?

A couple weeks ago, Intel surprised us with Thunderbolt 4, the renewal of Thunderbolt 3 that comes to improve some of the deficiencies that we find in the current generation. Beyond the innovations introduced in this new iteration, the goal of Intel is to unify Thunderbolt 4 and USB 4 connections by having the same connector, which in this case is USB type C. In fact, the company’s plans include starting to install this connection on laptops sold from this year.

How fast is Thunderbolt 4?

The theoretical speed of the new generation does not vary one iota with respect to the speed offered by Thunderbolt: 40Gbps, or what is the same, 5GB/s. Where we do find a substantial improvement is in the image and video section.

Thunderbolt 4 features

Specifically, Thunderbolt 4 allows us to connect up to two monitors with 4K resolution or one monitor with 8K resolution. Another improvement that comes with this new specification has to do with the speed of the PCIe buses. Until now, the maximum speed supported by Thunderbolt 3 was 16 Gb/s. Intel’s goal in 2020 is to double up to 32Gb/s speed.

The consequences of doubling the speed of the PCIe buses will greatly affect external graphics card connections. In theory, Thunderbolt 4 will take much better advantage of the raw power of the graphics by having twice the speed, which will help to reduce bottlenecks caused by the data funnel present in current connections. This translates to a higher frame rate per second in games and higher performance in tasks that require the use of a graphic such as video editing, use of live broadcast programs etc.

The latest big news announced by those from Mountain View has to do with accessories compatible with Thunderbolt 4. The minimum requirement that the company has imposed to certify accessories compatible with the new standard requires at least one charging port with the possibility of waking up the computers in Sleep mode when connected to the accessory in question. In addition, Intel has opened the ban to create devices with up to four ports, which must be compatible with Intel’s data protection for the company’s virtualization systems (VT-d).

The relese date: When can you buy a computer with Thunderbolt 4?

It appears that the company’s plans exclude the current generation of processors, meaning the tenth generation, also known as Ice Lake. In other words, Intel reserves the new standard’s compatibility with the new generation of 10nm processors, Tiger Lake. So the release date for Thunderbolt 4 will be later this year, with new ultrabooks.

Later it will reach the rest of the manufacturer’s ranges, including the range of conventional desktop and portable processors. Interestingly, the company has not reserved the rights to Thunderbolt, which means that both AMD and the rest of the processor manufacturers will be able to use Thunderbolt 4 without paying royalties.

We will have to see wait for AMD’s plans to know the company’s roadmap with its new generation of processors. After all, the cost of motherboards compatible with the latest generation Intel processors are much more expensive than AMD motherboards.