Intel today unveiled the new universal Thunderbolt 4 connector. And, surprise! It does not offer a speed increase over Thunderbolt 3. But it does include important improvements that will make life easier for users.
Thunderbolt is a universal Intel connector that is included in many PCs and Macs. Handles data, video, charging and is USB compatible, so the idea is that a single connector is for everything from connecting hard drives or printers to monitors, while taking care of recharging the laptop.
Thunderbolt 4 continues to maintain top speed of 40 Gb / sg from its predecessor and supports USB 4, which is also under development. But now it increases the requirements so that the majority of the peripherals reach this speed. It also releases requests that are highly demanded by users, such as the use of several Thunderbolt ports on the same PC, and the official 2 meter cables.
One of the problems that most PC ports have is that they offer spectacular maximum speeds … but their minimum requirements are very low. We will give an example: a USB 3.0 port reaches speeds of up to 20 Gb / sg, but it turns out that you connect that 20 euro hard drive that you bought on Aliexpress, and it takes 5 minutes to copy a 5 GB file … Intel wants to avoid this raising the requirements for a PC or peripheral to use Thunderbolt 4.
Thus, it doubles the minimum video and data requirements necessary to use Thunderbolt 4, and requires that the graphics chip offer support for two 4K displays or one 8K display. In the case of data, the PCIe connection must support a speed of 32 Gbps with storage speeds of up to 3,000 MB / sg.
The PC must have at least one port with battery charge support, and requires Intel VT-d based memory access protection (DMA) to protect itself from physical DMA attacks.
One of the most applauded novelties is the multiport support. Most Thunderbolt 3 and earlier PCs only carry such a port due to speed or space limitations (laptops), so if we use it to connect a monitor we cannot use it to recharge, or vice versa. Thunderbolt 4 overcomes this limitation by allowing up to 4 Thunderbolt 4 ports on the same PC.
Another improvement is the official launch of 2 meter Thunderbolt cables, to increase versatility. In addition, cables of between 5 and 50 meters are being developed.
Although there is no speed increase, Thunderbolt 4 It presents enough new features and improvements to include it in your next new PC. It will be available later this year on PCs and Macs with Tiger Lake and subsequent processors. It is fully compatible with Thunderbolt 3, USB 3.0 and earlier peripherals.