Intel confirms Thunderbolt 4 on way with four-times USB 3 speed

Posted:
in General Discussion edited September 2020
Intel has confirmed Thunderbolt 4 is on the way and will be supported by its processors in an upcoming generation, with the chip producer hinting at the connection's vast throughput capabilities at its annual CES presentation.

Intel EVP Gregory Bryant showing Intel's 'Tiger Lake' processors at CES 2020
Intel EVP Gregory Bryant showing Intel's 'Tiger Lake' processors at CES 2020


Part of a number of on-stage announcements at CES 2020, Intel made a rare comment about Thunderbolt 4, the anticipated follow-up to Thunderbolt 3. Intel Executive Vice President Gregory Bryant referred to Thunderbolt 4, making it possibly the first time the company has spoken about it in public.

Mentioned as part of its announcements for upcoming "Tiger Lake" mobile processors, Thunderbolt 4 is oddly described as having four times the throughput of "USB 3." As the base USB 3.0 has a maximum theoretical speed of 5Gb/s, this seems to be an unlikely claim to make, as Thunderbolt 2 is capable of achieving 20Gb/s, while Thunderbolt 3 is double at 40Gbps.

It is probable Intel is referring to the more recent update of USB 3.2 Gen 2x2, which is capable of up to 20 gigabits per second when using two lanes. If so, this would put Thunderbolt 4 as reaching a throughput of up to 80 Gb/s.

The 80 gigabits per second makes the most sense. Thunderbolt 3 uses four PCI-E 3.0 channels to achieve those speeds. In theory, Thunderbolt 4 would use four PCI-E 4.0 channels to get that higher speed.

More concrete specifications about Thunderbolt 4 are expected to be made available ahead of the launch of the first "Tiger Lake" processors, which were said to be shipping sometime in 2020. Even so, it remains to be seen when Apple will introduce support for the connection in its products in the future, as it will most likely rely on Intel's processors to facilitate the feature.

It remains to be seen if Thunderbolt 4 will make it to market ahead of USB 4. Finalized in late 2019, USB 4 offers throughput of up to 40Gb/s, power delivery of up to 100W, and backwards compatibility with earlier USB standards, along with Thunderbolt 3 connections.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 17
    TB4 is great. Thinking that 100GbE still sounds like a myth or impossible for anything that isn't a data centre, this is simply one cable to rule them all.. However dear INTEL: TB is the only thing you have going for yourself. Disappointed with 10th gen for desktops, not impressed with 10th gen for laptops, frustrated with the 7nm roadmap. I don't see you holding your Xeon market share in 5 years time at this pace.. Time to innovate?
    edited January 2020 rob53repressthiswatto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 17
    mdriftmeyermdriftmeyer Posts: 7,503member
    And someday the vaunted 100GB will finally be reached.
    repressthiswatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 17
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 13,377member
    This is almost as bad as Intel Optane unit having to use AMD boards to demo their hardware.   Nobody will care if new TB hardware emerges and it ends up running on slow, buggy Intel CPUs.  
  • Reply 4 of 17
    I got chewed out for daring to suggest the new MacPro was a poor investment as it was still using Intels soon to be retired chipset and had no usb 4 support, so will say it again, would rather wait fo usb 4, thunderbolt 4 and a much newer Intel chip before I replace a desktop workstation even if that's one to two years away.
    donjuanpulseimages
  • Reply 5 of 17
    razorpitrazorpit Posts: 1,796member
    gerry g said:
    I got chewed out for daring to suggest the new MacPro was a poor investment as it was still using Intels soon to be retired chipset and had no usb 4 support, so will say it again, would rather wait fo usb 4, thunderbolt 4 and a much newer Intel chip before I replace a desktop workstation even if that's one to two years away.
    And rightly so. You don't understand/appreciate two years of lost production.

    Over the next two years you could possibly lose hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not millions in production using the previous generation trash can Mac Pro. Anyone not seeing the value of the new Pro that is available now does not have the need for the new Mac Pro.

    In two years time the current machine will still be worth a considerable amount for reselling to smaller houses that cannot afford a new machine.
    uraharatmaypscooter63baconstangMacProStrangeDaysdewmerepressthiswatto_cobrallama
  • Reply 6 of 17
    uraharaurahara Posts: 624member
    gerry g said:
    I got chewed out for daring to suggest the new MacPro was a poor investment as it was still using Intels soon to be retired chipset and had no usb 4 support, so will say it again, would rather wait fo usb 4, thunderbolt 4 and a much newer Intel chip before I replace a desktop workstation even if that's one to two years away.
    Thank you. You are absolutely right to wait more. 

    So this means that I have a higher performance Machine than you. Within the similar workflow I will outperform you. I most likely will earn more money quicker. These excess money I will invest into the new machine with USB 4 and thunderbolt 4. And there still be something left for me to enjoy my life with. 

    Please wait for the next generation, so that I could outperform and earn more money. And I want more money. 
    ciachiaMacProStrangeDaysfastasleeprepressthiswatto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 17
    All that money I spent on TB2 stuff...
    baconstang
  • Reply 8 of 17
    urahara said:

    Thank you. You are absolutely right to wait more. 

    So this means that I have a higher performance Machine than you. Within the similar workflow I will outperform you. I most likely will earn more money quicker. These excess money I will invest into the new machine with USB 4 and thunderbolt 4. And there still be something left for me to enjoy my life with. 

    Please wait for the next generation, so that I could outperform and earn more money. And I want more money. 
    Many professionals and consumers wait for the second generation of a new Apple device. Apple has gotten really buggy these last few years so I will wait a little longer on a MP too.
    baconstang
  • Reply 9 of 17
    More planned obsolesce to make more money
    donjuan
  • Reply 10 of 17
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 6,425administrator
    ArcaSwiss said:
    More planned obsolesce to make more money
    Right, because Apple should have waited another year for Thunderbolt 4 to ship the Mac Pro. 

    This is a bad take.
    MacProanomerepressthiswatto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 17
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 12,001member
    gerry g said:
    I got chewed out for daring to suggest the new MacPro was a poor investment as it was still using Intels soon to be retired chipset and had no usb 4 support, so will say it again, would rather wait fo usb 4, thunderbolt 4 and a much newer Intel chip before I replace a desktop workstation even if that's one to two years away.
    That’s because you’re thinking like an enthusiast, and not a professional generating income or value on the workstation. Opportunity cost is a thing. 
    anomerepressthiswatto_cobrallama
  • Reply 12 of 17
    fastasleepfastasleep Posts: 6,058member
    donjuan said:
    All that money I spent on TB2 stuff...
    It stopped working?
    repressthiswatto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 17
    jccjcc Posts: 303member
    I wish Apple would put some of this speed to work when you sync their devices (iPhones & iPads). I think we're barely getting USB 3 speeds... :/
    edited January 2020
  • Reply 14 of 17
    Mentioned as part of its announcements for upcoming "Tiger Lake" mobile processors, Thunderbolt 4 is oddly described as having four times the throughput of "USB 3." As the base USB 3.0 has a maximum theoretical speed of 5Gb/s, this seems to be an unlikely claim to make, as Thunderbolt 2 is capable of achieving 20Gb/s, while Thunderbolt 3 is double at 40Gbps.

    It is probable Intel is referring to the more recent update of USB 3.2 Gen 2x2, which is capable of up to 20 gigabits per second when using two lanes. If so, this would put Thunderbolt 4 as reaching a throughput of up to 80 Gb/s.

    The 80 gigabits per second makes the most sense. Thunderbolt 3 uses four PCI-E 3.0 channels to achieve those speeds. In theory, Thunderbolt 4 would use four PCI-E 4.0 channels to get that higher speed.
    Unfortunately, all this is wrong, according to AnandTech, which claims to have confirmed their understanding with Intel. Intel said that they were talking about 3.2gen2, so TB4 is still at 40gbps, leaving a lot of head-scratching about what it actually offers over USB4 or TB3.

    See the last paragraph of this: https://www.anandtech.com/show/15345/intel-teases-thunderbolt-4-light-on-details

    watto_cobra
  • Reply 15 of 17
    fastasleepfastasleep Posts: 6,058member
    jcc said:
    I wish Apple would put some of this speed to work when you sync their devices (iPhones & iPads). I think we're barely getting USB 3 speeds... :/
    Are you sure you have USB 3 compatible iPhones & iPads?
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 16 of 17
    eriamjheriamjh Posts: 1,366member
    Waiting vs buying is a silly argument since one can always sell their current model and upgrade in the future without “waiting” at all.  

    watto_cobra
  • Reply 17 of 17
    mcdavemcdave Posts: 1,897member
    And someday the vaunted 100GB will finally be reached.
    1Tbps optical ThunderboltX please.
    watto_cobra
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