Intel announces Thunderbolt 4 – Major innovations coming

Intel will launch Thunderbolt 4 as part of its Tiger Lake Core mobile processors in 2020, the company announced at CES 2020.

Thunderbolt 4 will offer four-times the throughput of USB 3.1, the company said.

While this may sound impressive, it means that Thunderbolt 4 does not offer speeds any faster than Thunderbolt 3.

USB 3.1 offers speeds of up to 10Gbps, while Thunderbolt 3 already offers 40Gbps of throughput.

Intel has said that other changes will come to Thunderbolt 4 which will make it a valuable upgrade, however.

“It standardizes PC platform requirements and adds the latest Thunderbolt innovations,” Intel spokesperson Sarah Kane said.

Kane said Intel will share more details about Thunderbolt 4 at a later date.

Thunderbolt fails to take off

Thunderbolt first entered the mainstream market in 2011 when Apple decided to use the technology in its devices. A number of Windows PCs have since followed suit – including several high-end gaming laptops.

Thunderbolt technology is often used in high-performance systems that require a powerful, multi-functional port.

The port currently offers the following features:

  • Data transfer rates of up to 40Gbps
  • Drive two 4K (3,840 × 2,160) displays at 60Hz
  • System charging up to 100W
  • USB 3.1 compatible
  • 4 lanes of PCI Express Gen 3
  • 8 lanes of DisplayPort 1.2
  • 15W to bus-powered devices
  • 10Gb Ethernet connection between computers

USB 4 is also expected to launch later this year and will incorporate Thunderbolt 3 technology – meaning it will offer speeds comparable to both Thunderbolt 3 and 4.

CNET predicted that this would continue to limit Thunderbolt technology to high-end machines, with mainstream machines preferring USB 4.

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Intel announces Thunderbolt 4 – Major innovations coming