Intel details Thunderbolt 4 spec, but 'Apple silicon' support is unclear [u]

Posted:
in General Discussion edited September 2020
Intel on Wednesday announced new details about its upcoming Thunderbolt 4 standard, though compatibility with Apple silicon Macs remains to be seen.

Credit: Intel
Credit: Intel


The Thunderbolt 4 standard will be backward compatible with previous Intel ports and cables, and will also be cross-compatible with USB4. Compared to Thunderbolt 3, it'll offer a number of tangible benefits to consumers while retaining the USB-C connector type.

For example, it'll allow for universal cables up to two meters long without needing to resort to active cables that leave out older USB standards. Thunderbolt 4 will also support accessories, such as docks, with up to four Thunderbolt 4 ports. The standard will double the minimum video and data requirements of Thunderbolt 3.

Other features include the ability to wake up a computer from sleep by touching a peripheral connected to a Thunderbolt dock, and protection against physical DMA attacks.

Thunderbolt 4 will debut on Intel's Tiger Lake Processors for laptops later in 2020. Intel will also make new 8000-series controller chips available to computer and accessory makers.

How Apple silicon Macs are going to implement Thunderbolt support is an open question. The Developer Transition Kit -- essentially a Mac mini with an A12Z -- doesn't come with any Thunderbolt 3 ports, for example.

Intel notes that Thunderbolt 4 requires "Intel VT-d-based direct memory access protection." That suggests that Thunderbolt 4 may require Intel chips or technology to function.

Update: Apple in a statement to AppleInsider said it is committed to the future of Thunderbolt and will support the protocol on Apple silicon Macs.
«1

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 29
    As a standard, Thunderbolt in all its iterations is an abject failure for two reasons: No affordable devices supported it and the selection was extremely limited. Thunderbolt was only found on external SSD drives that cost about twice as much as the USB 3 versions and often offered little additional performance. USB on the other hand has been a staggering success. When people purchase a new computer, the first thing they often look for is how many USB C 3.2 ports they offer. It works with everything (including Thunderbolt) and is frequently updated with additional speed/features. The only thing you have to watch out for are shady cables on Amazon (pay a bit extra and buy from a reputable brand). If you really want Thunderbolt, buy an add in card for your Mac Pro.
    edited July 2020 williamlondonstevenozviclauyycrazorpit
  • Reply 2 of 29
    thttht Posts: 4,131member
    This news is a nothingburger for Apple? No new functionality in TB4 for Apple devices as far as I can tell:


    So, it essentially brings TB capability for PC to Apple Mac levels, almost? 5K monitor support is spotty in the PC world. 
    jdb8167longpathrazorpitwatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 29
    jdb8167jdb8167 Posts: 621member
    I doubt Apple is worried about Thunderbolt 4 right now. It is more likely that they are working on USB4. I'm not seeing much in the list from Intel that Apple hasn't already implemented across their Thunderbolt 3 ports. They don't need Intel VT-d based DMA protection since they already implement DMA protection in the T2. I'm sure Apple has this covered. Anything that was covered by Intel VT-d will be added to Apple Silicon. They aren't going to implement a weaker version of DMA for their own SoCs.

    https://support.apple.com/guide/security/dma-protections-seca4960c2b5/1/web/1


    edited July 2020 williamlondonaderutterbaconstangDeelronMacProviclauyycwatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 29
    mjtomlinmjtomlin Posts: 2,490member
    I don't understand the concern about whether Apple Silicon Macs will support it? Doesn't this article mention,

    "Intel will also make new 8000-series controller chips available to computer and accessory makers."

    Why wouldn't Apple just add the controller chip on their motherboards? (And that goes for TB3 as well.)

    People REALLY need to stop assuming the Dev Kit mini is what the new Apple Silicon based Macs will be like.
    edited July 2020 jdb8167williamlondonbaconstangBeatsMacProdewmeviclauyycMplsPjony0watto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 29
    jdb8167jdb8167 Posts: 621member
    mjtomlin said:
    I don't understand the concern about whether Apple Silicon Macs will support it? Doesn't this article mention,

    "Intel will also make new 8000-series controller chips available to computer and accessory makerThe s."

    Why wouldn't Apple just add the controller chip on their motherboards?

    People REALLY need to stop assuming the Dev Kit mini is what the new Apple Silicon based Macs will be like.
    The only reason Apple wouldn't use an existing Thunderbolt controller is if it didn't meet their minimum requirements. That's why they beefed up DMA security with the T2. 

    It's hard to imagine how Apple could make it more clear that the Developer Transition Kit does not represent what Apple will be releasing in the fall. The only solution would have been to not talk about it at all or not release the DTK in general--invite only.
    edited July 2020 longpathMacProdewmeviclauyycMplsPwilliamlondonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 29
    elijahgelijahg Posts: 2,506member
    mjtomlin said:
    I don't understand the concern about whether Apple Silicon Macs will support it? Doesn't this article mention,

    "Intel will also make new 8000-series controller chips available to computer and accessory makers."

    Why wouldn't Apple just add the controller chip on their motherboards? (And that goes for TB3 as well.)

    People REALLY need to stop assuming the Dev Kit mini is what the new Apple Silicon based Macs will be like.
    Because it’s not known whether the PCIe bus on the Apple CPU will support anything other than NVME, or indeed whether it will have PCIe at all. That chip requires PCIe since thunderbolt is essentially just PCIe, so no PCIe = no Thunderbolt. 
    edited July 2020 darkvaderwilliamlondon
  • Reply 7 of 29
    aderutteraderutter Posts: 489member
    As a standard, Thunderbolt in all its iterations is an abject failure for two reasons: No affordable devices supported it and the selection was extremely limited. Thunderbolt was only found on external SSD drives that cost about twice as much as the USB 3 versions and often offered little additional performance. USB on the other hand has been a staggering success. When people purchase a new computer, the first thing they often look for is how many USB C 3.2 ports they offer. It works with everything (including Thunderbolt) and is frequently updated with additional speed/features. The only thing you have to watch out for are shady cables on Amazon (pay a bit extra and buy from a reputable brand). If you really want Thunderbolt, buy an add in card for your Mac Pro.
    Thunderbolt 3 is 40 Gbps, so only 8 x the performance of USB3.0, 4 x the performance of USB3.1 and twice that of USB3.2

    I agree most people don’t need this performance and that for low-end users USB3.n is usually adequate.

    I think the best thing about this TB4 looks to be the 4-port dock possibility.
    tmayviclauyycspock1234watto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 29
    jdb8167jdb8167 Posts: 621member
    elijahg said:
    mjtomlin said:
    I don't understand the concern about whether Apple Silicon Macs will support it? Doesn't this article mention,

    "Intel will also make new 8000-series controller chips available to computer and accessory makers."

    Why wouldn't Apple just add the controller chip on their motherboards? (And that goes for TB3 as well.)

    People REALLY need to stop assuming the Dev Kit mini is what the new Apple Silicon based Macs will be like.
    Because it’s not known whether the PCIe bus on the Apple CPU will support anything other than NVME, or indeed whether it will have PCIe at all. That chip requires PCIe since thunderbolt is essentially just PCIe, so no PCIe = no Thunderbolt. 
    Every single Mac that Apple has on sale right now uses Thunderbolt 3. Would Apple release new flagship Mac hardware that is less capable than their current models? Does this strike you as something Apple does? If Apple doesn't release Thunderbolt with the new Apple Silicon Macs it is because they have something more capable. Since nothing like that exists outside of USB4 with Thunderbolt 3 options, it is hard to imagine anything new that isn't at least Thunderbolt 3 or USB4 w/Thunderbolt.

    Why do people think that PCIe is some difficult controller. Apple implemented PCIe on the G5 back in 2005. I'm pretty sure if Apple could manage PCIe in 2005 they can do the same in 2020.
    MacProchiaspock1234williamlondonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 29
    mdriftmeyermdriftmeyer Posts: 7,503member
    tht said:
    This news is a nothingburger for Apple? No new functionality in TB4 for Apple devices as far as I can tell:


    So, it essentially brings TB capability for PC to Apple Mac levels, almost? 5K monitor support is spotty in the PC world. 
    It’s right there in the spec

    Required Intel VT-d based DMA protection. 

    In the Audio world Thunderbolt is in all professional Audio Interface hardware, as well as Ethernet via Dante spec in the likes of Apogee Digital, Universal Audio, Focusrite Red, etc. TB 2 & 3 are big for low latency DMA over PCIe and critical as USB doesn’t have that, period.

    The PCIe 32GB/s means PCIe 4.0 as a minimum. No problem as by the time Apple Silicon on Mac Pro arrives they’ll be PCIe 5.0 based motherboards.

    https://newsroom.intel.com/news/introducing-thunderbolt-4-universal-cable-connectivity-everyone/#gs.aasuc3

    When It Is Available: Later this year, Intel expects to deliver the new Thunderbolt 4 controller 8000 series, including:

    • JHL8540 and JHL8340 host controllers for computer makers.
    • JHL8440 device controller for accessory makers.

    The first computers and accessories with Thunderbolt 4 ports are also expected to be available this year, including laptops based on Intel’s innovation program code-named “Project Athena.”


    Apple will include one of those host controllers on their Apple Silicon based Mac motherboards just like AMD OEMs will do to offer TB4 on their motherboards.

    MacProviclauyycspock1234watto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 29
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 6,957member
    tht said:
    This news is a nothingburger for Apple? No new functionality in TB4 for Apple devices as far as I can tell:


    So, it essentially brings TB capability for PC to Apple Mac levels, almost? 5K monitor support is spotty in the PC world. 

    What the hell?

    It's not any faster?

    And in the real world, what's the difference between 'compatible' or 'compliant'?

    Compatible --> might work
    Compliant --> will work
    edited July 2020 razorpitwilliamlondonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 29
    thttht Posts: 4,131member
    tht said:
    This news is a nothingburger for Apple? No new functionality in TB4 for Apple devices as far as I can tell:


    So, it essentially brings TB capability for PC to Apple Mac levels, almost? 5K monitor support is spotty in the PC world. 
    It’s right there in the spec

    Required Intel VT-d based DMA protection. 

    In the Audio world Thunderbolt is in all professional Audio Interface hardware, as well as Ethernet via Dante spec in the likes of Apogee Digital, Universal Audio, Focusrite Red, etc. TB 2 & 3 are big for low latency DMA over PCIe and critical as USB doesn’t have that, period.

    The PCIe 32GB/s means PCIe 4.0 as a minimum. No problem as by the time Apple Silicon on Mac Pro arrives they’ll be PCIe 5.0 based motherboards.

    https://newsroom.intel.com/news/introducing-thunderbolt-4-universal-cable-connectivity-everyone/#gs.aasuc3

    When It Is Available: Later this year, Intel expects to deliver the new Thunderbolt 4 controller 8000 series, including:
    • JHL8540 and JHL8340 host controllers for computer makers.
    • JHL8440 device controller for accessory makers.

    The first computers and accessories with Thunderbolt 4 ports are also expected to be available this year, including laptops based on Intel’s innovation program code-named “Project Athena.”

    Apple will include one of those host controllers on their Apple Silicon based Mac motherboards just like AMD OEMs will do to offer TB4 on their motherboards.

    It's 32 gigabit per second, not gigabyte. All they are doing for "TB4" certification is to have minimum support of 32 gigabit/sec data bandwidth. In TB3, it was a 16 gigabit/sec minimum. Apple already supports 32 gigabit per second on all of their TB3 Macs. They already support Intel's DMA virtualization. They already support 2 4K monitors or 1 5K or 6K monitor per TB3 bus. The PC speed bandwidth is the same at 40 gigabit per second for both TB3 and TB4. This only requires x4 lanes of PCIe 3. 

    As far as I can tell, the only new thing is accessories can have 4 TB ports.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 29
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 5,823member
    As a standard, Thunderbolt in all its iterations is an abject failure for two reasons: No affordable devices supported it and the selection was extremely limited. Thunderbolt was only found on external SSD drives that cost about twice as much as the USB 3 versions and often offered little additional performance. USB on the other hand has been a staggering success. When people purchase a new computer, the first thing they often look for is how many USB C 3.2 ports they offer. It works with everything (including Thunderbolt) and is frequently updated with additional speed/features. The only thing you have to watch out for are shady cables on Amazon (pay a bit extra and buy from a reputable brand). If you really want Thunderbolt, buy an add in card for your Mac Pro.
    You seem to know what everyone else is looking for eh?

    For those that do actual work on their machines, particularly those that depend on them to generate revenue for their business, Thunderbolt is a no-brainer.
    williamlondonStrangeDayswatto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 29
    BeatsBeats Posts: 2,642member
    mjtomlin said:
    I don't understand the concern about whether Apple Silicon Macs will support it? Doesn't this article mention,

    "Intel will also make new 8000-series controller chips available to computer and accessory makers."

    Why wouldn't Apple just add the controller chip on their motherboards? (And that goes for TB3 as well.)

    People REALLY need to stop assuming the Dev Kit mini is what the new Apple Silicon based Macs will be like.

    People think the A12Z chip is what will be used. haha.

    jdb8167 said:
    mjtomlin said:
    I don't understand the concern about whether Apple Silicon Macs will support it? Doesn't this article mention,

    "Intel will also make new 8000-series controller chips available to computer and accessory makerThe s."

    Why wouldn't Apple just add the controller chip on their motherboards?

    People REALLY need to stop assuming the Dev Kit mini is what the new Apple Silicon based Macs will be like.
    The only reason Apple wouldn't use an existing Thunderbolt controller is if it didn't meet their minimum requirements. That's why they beefed up DMA security with the T2. 

    It's hard to imagine how Apple could make it more clear that the Developer Transition Kit does not represent what Apple will be releasing in the fall. The only solution would have been to not talk about it at all or not release the DTK in general--invite only.
    Because of leaks this would not have worked. People don't know how to keep their mouth shut. Also it was announced at WWDC to give developers a head start. It should really be called "conversion kit". Macs will hopefully be "One More Thing" in September.

    lkruppwilliamlondonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 29
    mdriftmeyermdriftmeyer Posts: 7,503member
    tht said:
    tht said:
    This news is a nothingburger for Apple? No new functionality in TB4 for Apple devices as far as I can tell:


    So, it essentially brings TB capability for PC to Apple Mac levels, almost? 5K monitor support is spotty in the PC world. 
    It’s right there in the spec

    Required Intel VT-d based DMA protection. 

    In the Audio world Thunderbolt is in all professional Audio Interface hardware, as well as Ethernet via Dante spec in the likes of Apogee Digital, Universal Audio, Focusrite Red, etc. TB 2 & 3 are big for low latency DMA over PCIe and critical as USB doesn’t have that, period.

    The PCIe 32GB/s means PCIe 4.0 as a minimum. No problem as by the time Apple Silicon on Mac Pro arrives they’ll be PCIe 5.0 based motherboards.

    https://newsroom.intel.com/news/introducing-thunderbolt-4-universal-cable-connectivity-everyone/#gs.aasuc3

    When It Is Available: Later this year, Intel expects to deliver the new Thunderbolt 4 controller 8000 series, including:
    • JHL8540 and JHL8340 host controllers for computer makers.
    • JHL8440 device controller for accessory makers.

    The first computers and accessories with Thunderbolt 4 ports are also expected to be available this year, including laptops based on Intel’s innovation program code-named “Project Athena.”

    Apple will include one of those host controllers on their Apple Silicon based Mac motherboards just like AMD OEMs will do to offer TB4 on their motherboards.

    It's 32 gigabit per second, not gigabyte. All they are doing for "TB4" certification is to have minimum support of 32 gigabit/sec data bandwidth. In TB3, it was a 16 gigabit/sec minimum. Apple already supports 32 gigabit per second on all of their TB3 Macs. They already support Intel's DMA virtualization. They already support 2 4K monitors or 1 5K or 6K monitor per TB3 bus. The PC speed bandwidth is the same at 40 gigabit per second for both TB3 and TB4. This only requires x4 lanes of PCIe 3. 

    As far as I can tell, the only new thing is accessories can have 4 TB ports.

    Right. My error in bit vs. byte, and yes the minimum requirement is PCIe 3.0 bandwidth. In practical application, that means PCIe 4.0 as no Vendor will be producing PCIe 3.0 motherboards any longer, including Apple with Apple Silicon.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 15 of 29
    longpathlongpath Posts: 362member
    Given how dead in the water USB was until Apple adopted it, I sincerely doubt that thunderbolt four will go anywhere until and unless Apple decides to run with it. Conversely, USB four seems like a natural solution for Apple that gives them thunderbolt three without the additional power consumption of a discrete controller. It’s pretty clear that Apple is trying for system on a chip, as they do with iPhones and iPads.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 16 of 29
    rob53rob53 Posts: 2,723member
    aderutter said:
    As a standard, Thunderbolt in all its iterations is an abject failure for two reasons: No affordable devices supported it and the selection was extremely limited. Thunderbolt was only found on external SSD drives that cost about twice as much as the USB 3 versions and often offered little additional performance. USB on the other hand has been a staggering success. When people purchase a new computer, the first thing they often look for is how many USB C 3.2 ports they offer. It works with everything (including Thunderbolt) and is frequently updated with additional speed/features. The only thing you have to watch out for are shady cables on Amazon (pay a bit extra and buy from a reputable brand). If you really want Thunderbolt, buy an add in card for your Mac Pro.
    Thunderbolt 3 is 40 Gbps, so only 8 x the performance of USB3.0, 4 x the performance of USB3.1 and twice that of USB3.2

    I agree most people don’t need this performance and that for low-end users USB3.n is usually adequate.

    I think the best thing about this TB4 looks to be the 4-port dock possibility.
    Your understanding is limited. I'm using a TB3 external drive as the boot drive on an iMac that came with a 5400rpm drive. It was less expensive to buy the external drive than to get an SSD internal drive, yet the speeds are the same. It is also easier to replace the current external drive with a larger external SSD drive or a 4-bay NVMe RAID, keeping one drive for startup and using the other three for RAID. People always want more speed. 
    razorpitchasmwatto_cobra
  • Reply 17 of 29
    Wait, its going to be twice as fast as TB3? Bc TB3 runs external GPUs at 70-80% and up until now Intel has let the rumor mill run that 2x claim is based on a lower spec USB speed 3.1 effectively 40gbps which is what TB3 already does.... ??
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 18 of 29
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 9,637member
    Beats said:

    People REALLY need to stop assuming the Dev Kit mini is what the new Apple Silicon based Macs will be like.

    People think the A12Z chip is what will be used. haha.

    Stupid people think that. That being said, there's plenty of stupid people right here in the AI forums, like the ones bitching about benchmarks on the DevKit Mac Mini.
    edited July 2020 williamlondonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 20 of 29
    aderutteraderutter Posts: 489member
    rob53 said:
    aderutter said:
    As a standard, Thunderbolt in all its iterations is an abject failure for two reasons: No affordable devices supported it and the selection was extremely limited. Thunderbolt was only found on external SSD drives that cost about twice as much as the USB 3 versions and often offered little additional performance. USB on the other hand has been a staggering success. When people purchase a new computer, the first thing they often look for is how many USB C 3.2 ports they offer. It works with everything (including Thunderbolt) and is frequently updated with additional speed/features. The only thing you have to watch out for are shady cables on Amazon (pay a bit extra and buy from a reputable brand). If you really want Thunderbolt, buy an add in card for your Mac Pro.
    Thunderbolt 3 is 40 Gbps, so only 8 x the performance of USB3.0, 4 x the performance of USB3.1 and twice that of USB3.2

    I agree most people don’t need this performance and that for low-end users USB3.n is usually adequate.

    I think the best thing about this TB4 looks to be the 4-port dock possibility.
    Your understanding is limited. I'm using a TB3 external drive as the boot drive on an iMac that came with a 5400rpm drive. It was less expensive to buy the external drive than to get an SSD internal drive, yet the speeds are the same. It is also easier to replace the current external drive with a larger external SSD drive or a 4-bay NVMe RAID, keeping one drive for startup and using the other three for RAID. People always want more speed. 
    My understanding isn’t limited.
    I too boot from an external drive on one of my iMacs and for me too more speed, always want more speed.
    I recognise I’m not a low-end user and not overly impressed with this TB4 that is no faster than TB3.
    spock1234
Sign In or Register to comment.