Intel announces Thunderbolt 4 and confirms USB 4.0 support

We had been talking about the Thunderbolt 4 standard for a long time, but the truth is that Intel had not yet officially presented it, a reality that has changed just today. The chip giant has presented the successor to the Thunderbolt 3 standard in society, and has confirmed all your keys, including from performance to compatibility, and has also taken advantage of showing the logos and images associated with said standard.

The Thunderbolt 4 standard keeps the same connector and the same design, in general, of the logos that identifies it, as we can see in the attached image that you will find just below these lines. In terms of performance we did not find any difference, since Intel has maintained the maximum of 40 Gbps that we find in Thunderbolt 3, but this does not mean that this new standard lacks interesting news.

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The first important novelty is found in its compatibility with USB 4.0. Both standards will use the same basis, both in terms of specification and connector (USB Type C), but we must bear in mind that USB 4.0 will be divided into two major variants, one that will be limited to 20 Gbps and another one that will work 40 Gbps, like the Thunderbolt 4 standard.

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Another interesting novelty is found in the wiring length and at maximum ports to be offered by the new Thunderbolt 4-based docks. Intel has confirmed that we can use cables up to two meters long, a length that they hope to expand to 5-50 meters in the future, and that the new docks will have up to four ports. Processors Tiger lakeBased on the 10nm ++ process and equipped with Willow Cove cores, they will be the first to integrate the Thunderbolt 4 standard. On the desktop, Rocket Lake-S will be the first generation to release the Thunderbolt 4 standard.

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The chip giant has everything ready to facilitate the launch and the transition to this new standard. In this sense, the company has announced the Thunderbolt 4 8000 Driver Pack, which is compatible with the hundreds of millions of Thunderbolt 3 PCs and accessories, and Thunderbolt 4 development kits and certification tests, will be available by the end of the year.

Thunderbolt 4: high performance, versatility and reliability

Those are the main values ​​that define the new Intel standard, which allows connecting, with a single cable, a large number of peripherals and enjoy very high performance. For example, external graphics cards take advantage of the 40 Gbps of bandwidth that this connector offers to display a potential that would be impossible to achieve with a conventional USB connector.

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The same occurs with other types of peripherals, such as high-resolution monitors. With the Thunderbolt 4 standard we can connect without problem two screens with 4K resolution or one screen with 8K resolution, and all through a single cable, which will allow us to minimize the impact of wiring on our desktop, and we will enjoy video, data and charging through a single cable.

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Interesting, right? Well this is not all. Intel will maintain the requirement to obtain a specific certification to be able to use the Thunderbolt 4 standard, a requirement that makes a lot of sense, since it is the only way to ensure high quality and reliability. It is confirmed that this new standard will not imply the payment of any type of fee for rights, which means that it can be used for free, provided that the requirements necessary to obtain the certification of Intel are met. These requirements are:

  • The minimum video and data requirements offered by Thunderbolt 3 are doubled.
  • Support for two 4K or 8K screens.
  • Data: 32 Gbps PCIe for storage speeds of up to 3,000 MB / s.
  • Dock support with up to four Thunderbolt 4 ports.
  • The PC is loaded into at least one of the computer’s ports.
  • Wake up your computer simply by tapping the keyboard or mouse when connected to a Thunderbolt dock.
  • Direct Memory Access (DMA) Protection based on Intel VT-d, which helps prevent physical DMA attacks.

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If everything goes according to plan, the first Thunderbolt 4 compatible computers will be available later this year. As it could not be otherwise, this standard will be implemented in the Athena Project certification from Intel, which, as many of our readers will know, represents a guarantee that the equipment that has received it complies with a set of minimum specifications to guarantee a good experience of use.

Summing up, Thunderbolt 4 is set to become the advanced connectivity standard of the future, reaches speeds of 40 Gbps, allows video, data and charging to be worked over a single cable, is compatible with previous generations (both Thunderbolt and USB) offers high reliability and meets a broad set of industry standard specifications, including USB4, DisplayPort and PCI Express.

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