Apple silicon Macs to support Thunderbolt despite shift to ARM

Posted:
in General Discussion edited September 2020
Apple on Wednesday clarified its stance on future integration of Intel's Thunderbolt protocol, saying Macs powered by custom-designed Apple silicon ARM chips will continue to support the connectivity technology.

Thunderbolt


The tech giant in a statement to AppleInsider said Apple silicon Macs will support Thunderbolt's latest specifications. Thunderbolt's future on Mac was in question as Apple is in the beginning stages of transitioning away from Intel's x86 architecture in favor of its own ARM designs.

"Over a decade ago, Apple partnered with Intel to design and develop Thunderbolt, and today our customers enjoy the speed and flexibility it brings to every Mac," the company said. "We remain committed to the future of Thunderbolt and will support it in Macs with Apple silicon."

Apple's promise to continue support for the specification arrives hours after Intel detailed the forthcoming Thunderbolt 4 standard in a press release. While the updated protocol retains the 40Gb/s data throughput spec from Thunderbolt 3, more stringent minimum system requirements will deliver a more robust user experience.

For example, Thunderbolt 4 offers support for two 4K displays or one 8K display, double the capability of Thunderbolt 3. PC data requirements include 32Gbps speeds for PCIe and 10Gbps for USB 3.2, USB-4 compatibility, and charging from at least one PC port. Also new is the adoption of Intel VT-d based direct memory access (DMA) protection, a feature that should improve reliability.

Apple announced the coming shift away from Intel processors at WWDC in June, noting the transition is expected to take about two years to complete. The first ARM-based Macs are rumored to arrive at the end of 2020, perhaps in the form of a small-sized portable like MacBook.
dysamoria
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 49
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 6,048member
    Countless of "Apple is doomed" websites and iHaters that just KNEW thunderbolt would die with Intel are now quickly going back and removing comments and stories and pretending it never happened...
    designrBeatslongpathmacplusplusjdb8167cornchipericthehalfbeeiqatedoMisterKitwilliamlondon
  • Reply 2 of 49
    rob53rob53 Posts: 3,126member
    That statement doesn't show everything Apple said, only some excerpts. It would have been better for The Verge to publish the actual statement so we know exactly what Apple said. This is the difference between USB and Thunderbolt, something many people who only see numbers refuse to acknowledge:

    Both Thunderbolt 3 and Thunderbolt 4 offer higher hardware requirements compared to the standard USB 3 and USB4 standards that they’re built off of, and offer a consistency that regular USB-C standards can often be sorely lacking in.

    Thunderbolt 4, in particular, offers the same 40 Gbps speeds that Thunderbolt 3 had offered, but adds even stricter hardware requirements: devices will have to be able to support either two 4K displays or one 8K display, and allow for PCIe data transfer speeds of up to 32 Gbps.


    longpathcornchippatchythepiratedysamoriafastasleep
  • Reply 3 of 49
    rezwitsrezwits Posts: 851member
    Just when you thought USB-C TB# USB#.# couldn't get anymore confusing!  Just when you thought you had everything all memorized LOL.

    This whole curfluffle, is the EXACT reason, I stopped memorizing, chips, specs, speeds, products etc, a LONG time ago...,

    Just look things up when you need to!

    Leave your brain free for creativity!
    designrlongpathcornchipwilliamlondondysamoriarmusikantowMplsPrazorpitargonaut
  • Reply 4 of 49
    BeatsBeats Posts: 3,073member
    All the bi***ing that went on in the other thread. Can you shut up now?
    longpathjdb8167cornchipericthehalfbeewilliamlondonFidonet127MplsPrazorpitStrangeDaysargonaut
  • Reply 5 of 49
    mattinozmattinoz Posts: 2,076member
    I assume this means Apple will make their own Thunderbolt controllers and we might the iPadPro move to USB/Thunderbolt4.

    Also funny use of "Despite" implies Apple made choice to switch not knowing if it would work or not.
    Apple clearing knew day one of ARM first test machine what was needed for it to work. They have been driving THunderbolt to suit them since day one as well.



    edited July 2020 randominternetpersonargonaut
  • Reply 6 of 49
    rcfarcfa Posts: 1,124member
    People forget that Apple and Intel developed TB TOGETHER. It’s not like a PROTOCOL is depending on a specific CPU 🤦🏻‍♂️
    patchythepirateBeatsflyingdpurahararazorpitargonaut
  • Reply 7 of 49
    wood1208wood1208 Posts: 2,829member
    Long as Apple ARM MACs support USB4, all good.
    cornchipcaladanian
  • Reply 8 of 49
    jdb8167jdb8167 Posts: 626member
    rob53 said:
    That statement doesn't show everything Apple said, only some excerpts. It would have been better for The Verge to publish the actual statement so we know exactly what Apple said. This is the difference between USB and Thunderbolt, something many people who only see numbers refuse to acknowledge:

    Both Thunderbolt 3 and Thunderbolt 4 offer higher hardware requirements compared to the standard USB 3 and USB4 standards that they’re built off of, and offer a consistency that regular USB-C standards can often be sorely lacking in.

    Thunderbolt 4, in particular, offers the same 40 Gbps speeds that Thunderbolt 3 had offered, but adds even stricter hardware requirements: devices will have to be able to support either two 4K displays or one 8K display, and allow for PCIe data transfer speeds of up to 32 Gbps.
    Everything in TB4 is something Apple already supports in their TB3 implementations. There is nothing new for Apple in the TB4 specification. Some peripheral designs might be impacted but nothing from Apple. Apple already supports 2 4K monitors. I'm not sure about 8K but they do support 6K which is more realistic for a few years and 4K + 4K is likely the same as 8K. Apple already supports full 40 Gb/s data.

    Thunderbolt 4 is just Intel's requirement for PC makers to force them to be competitive with Apple. Intel does this all the time with limited success.

    Edit: Doh! Two 4K displays is only 1/2 of an 8K display. Sorry for the bad math. I don't know if Apple's current Thunderbolt 3 implementation supports 8K.
    edited July 2020 patchythepirateprismaticsfastasleep
  • Reply 9 of 49
    BeatsBeats Posts: 3,073member
    mattinoz said:
    I assume this means Apple will make their own Thunderbolt controllers and we might the iPadPro move to USB/Thunderbolt4.

    Also funny use of "Despite" implies Apple made choice to switch not knowing if it would work or not.
    Apple clearing knew day one of ARM first test machine what was needed for it to work. They have been driving THunderbolt to suit them since day one as well.



    Also people weren't paying attention to the keynote. Tim said they've been working on these Macs (obviously) for years. People act like Apple got the news of these new Macs the same day they did and are scrambling to put things together.
    gregoriusmwilliamlondonaderutterrandominternetpersonargonautfastasleep
  • Reply 10 of 49
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 33,376member
    rcfa said:
    People forget that Apple and Intel developed TB TOGETHER. It’s not like a PROTOCOL is depending on a specific CPU 🤦🏻‍♂️
    See, this is interesting. Apple is saying that they developed it together. But shortly after the technology became out, Intel said that it wasn’t true. They said that Apple came to them with the idea of a fast port, but that Intel did all the work, and that Apple had nothing to do with the development. So this statement is interesting.

    additionally, as far as TB 4 is concerned, VT-D is the reason I was concerned. While it’s true that TB is part of PCIE, VT-D is a technology inside Intel’s’ x86 chipsets. My concern was how Apple would implement an x86 technology. I guess we’ll find out.

    info from Intel on VT-D:

    https://software.intel.com/content/www/us/en/develop/articles/intel-virtualization-technology-for-directed-io-vt-d-enhancing-intel-platforms-for-efficient-virtualization-of-io-devices.html


    dysamoriacaladanian
  • Reply 11 of 49
    johnbearjohnbear Posts: 160member
    So there will still be some intel inside there. A bit of a relief to hear that 
    williamlondonlkruppcmmtac
  • Reply 12 of 49
    mattinozmattinoz Posts: 2,076member
    jdb8167 said:
    rob53 said:
    That statement doesn't show everything Apple said, only some excerpts. It would have been better for The Verge to publish the actual statement so we know exactly what Apple said. This is the difference between USB and Thunderbolt, something many people who only see numbers refuse to acknowledge:

    Both Thunderbolt 3 and Thunderbolt 4 offer higher hardware requirements compared to the standard USB 3 and USB4 standards that they’re built off of, and offer a consistency that regular USB-C standards can often be sorely lacking in.

    Thunderbolt 4, in particular, offers the same 40 Gbps speeds that Thunderbolt 3 had offered, but adds even stricter hardware requirements: devices will have to be able to support either two 4K displays or one 8K display, and allow for PCIe data transfer speeds of up to 32 Gbps.
    Everything in TB4 is something Apple already supports in their TB3 implementations. There is nothing new for Apple in the TB4 specification. Some peripheral designs might be impacted but nothing from Apple. Apple already supports 2 4K monitors. I'm not sure about 8K but they do support 6K which is more realistic for a few years and 4K + 4K is likely the same as 8K. Apple already supports full 40 Gb/s data.

    Thunderbolt 4 is just Intel's requirement for PC makers to force them to be competitive with Apple. Intel does this all the time with limited success.

    Edit: Doh! Two 4K displays is only 1/2 of an 8K display. Sorry for the bad math. I don't know if Apple's current Thunderbolt 3 implementation supports 8K.

    Exactly Thunderbolt from Intels side was to drive technology that they couldn't get USB alliance to adopt. They need Apple to push it even if Apple stops using other Intel product just because they are the only option to drive a novel idea to market. Apple's input has always been critical.

    Intel still want to push optical to make bucks off CMOS lasers of the original Lighteningbolt demo. So they still want Apple on the side for that when it happens.
    caladanian
  • Reply 13 of 49
    zimmiezimmie Posts: 640member
    melgross said:
    rcfa said:
    People forget that Apple and Intel developed TB TOGETHER. It’s not like a PROTOCOL is depending on a specific CPU 🤦🏻‍♂️
    See, this is interesting. Apple is saying that they developed it together. But shortly after the technology became out, Intel said that it wasn’t true. They said that Apple came to them with the idea of a fast port, but that Intel did all the work, and that Apple had nothing to do with the development. So this statement is interesting.

    additionally, as far as TB 4 is concerned, VT-D is the reason I was concerned. While it’s true that TB is part of PCIE, VT-D is a technology inside Intel’s’ x86 chipsets. My concern was how Apple would implement an x86 technology. I guess we’ll find out.

    info from Intel on VT-D:

    https://software.intel.com/content/www/us/en/develop/articles/intel-virtualization-technology-for-directed-io-vt-d-enhancing-intel-platforms-for-efficient-virtualization-of-io-devices.html


    VT-d is just IOMMU. It’s hardly proprietary, just something Apple hasn’t had to implement in their own chips because they have only ever provided PCIe (or equivalent) on-die. IOMMU cores exist for practically any popular processor architecture, and Apple can always design their own entirely in-house.

    Just like the reason the DTK doesn’t have Thunderbolt. Like I guessed in another thread, it’s simply because the A12 never needed external PCIe, so the pins just don’t exist for a Thunderbolt controller to connect to.
    tmaydysamoriathtjdb8167argonautfastasleep
  • Reply 14 of 49
    ericthehalfbeeericthehalfbee Posts: 4,425member
    mattinoz said:
    I assume this means Apple will make their own Thunderbolt controllers and we might the iPadPro move to USB/Thunderbolt4.

    Also funny use of "Despite" implies Apple made choice to switch not knowing if it would work or not.
    Apple clearing knew day one of ARM first test machine what was needed for it to work. They have been driving THunderbolt to suit them since day one as well.




    Apple will definitely make their own Thunderbolt controller chips (just like they make their own SSD controllers and other chips for various functions) or, most likely, it will be part of their processor.
    williamlondonfastasleepcaladanian
  • Reply 15 of 49
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 13,377member
    sflocal said:
    Countless of "Apple is doomed" websites and iHaters that just KNEW thunderbolt would die with Intel are now quickly going back and removing comments and stories and pretending it never happened...

    Over the last couple of weeks, since WWDC, I've seen more idiots on the web than I can ever remember.  These are native English speakers too, so that is no excuse.   I'm not sure if they are twisting stuff Apple has written on purpose to get hits on their sites or movies, but all they do is make themselves look ignorant.  

    Even this nonsense about Thunderbolt is just that.   Even if Apple dropped Thunderbolt it would be replaced by something different.   Apple wouldn't do that though because of their investment in Thunderbolt.
    lkrupprazorpit
  • Reply 16 of 49
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 13,377member
    rcfa said:
    People forget that Apple and Intel developed TB TOGETHER. It’s not like a PROTOCOL is depending on a specific CPU 🤦🏻‍♂️

    History is apparently a short coming of the average web user these days.
  • Reply 17 of 49
    4min334min33 Posts: 1member
    melgross said:
    rcfa said:
    People forget that Apple and Intel developed TB TOGETHER. It’s not like a PROTOCOL is depending on a specific CPU 🤦🏻‍♂️
    See, this is interesting. Apple is saying that they developed it together. But shortly after the technology became out, Intel said that it wasn’t true. They said that Apple came to them with the idea of a fast port, but that Intel did all the work, and that Apple had nothing to do with the development. So this statement is interesting.


    I'm not sure where intel made this statement, perhaps you can reference?  I can tell you this:  Intel's original Thunderbolt was a fiber-optically based wet dream.  Apple decided to couple with Intel post-transition to make a high speed port to supersede Firewire and then DisplayPort based on copper, and both parties shared the awesome amount of work on the physical layer it took to make Thunderbolt happen.  Apple in the interest of unification and end-user simplicity also then authored most of the USB-C phy specification, after never having been part of the USB coalition by donating the IP around signal muxing (auto-polarity), legacy DP support, guest protocols, and power control (not exhaustive).  If you download the USB-C spec there is a large number of Apple authors, before that none (although they did help update usb 3 to 3.2).  Apple has been driving these interfaces in conjunction primarily with Intel for a long time, they know as much as anyone about the issues.
    mattinozRayz2016tmaywilliamlondondewmedysamoriajdb8167argonautfastasleepcaladanian
  • Reply 18 of 49
    This was a no brainier. No way they were going to dump TB. No way the A12z is the production CPU and Apple will be making its own GPUs.
    williamlondon
  • Reply 19 of 49
    bestkeptsecretbestkeptsecret Posts: 4,226member
    Apple just killed off dozens of "Apple is doomed" articles in one fell swoop. 

    tmaywilliamlondoncommentzillarazorpitargonaut
  • Reply 20 of 49
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 6,957member
    4min33 said:
    melgross said:
    rcfa said:
    People forget that Apple and Intel developed TB TOGETHER. It’s not like a PROTOCOL is depending on a specific CPU 🤦🏻‍♂️
    See, this is interesting. Apple is saying that they developed it together. But shortly after the technology became out, Intel said that it wasn’t true. They said that Apple came to them with the idea of a fast port, but that Intel did all the work, and that Apple had nothing to do with the development. So this statement is interesting.


    I'm not sure where intel made this statement, perhaps you can reference?  I can tell you this:  Intel's original Thunderbolt was a fiber-optically based wet dream.  Apple decided to couple with Intel post-transition to make a high speed port to supersede Firewire and then DisplayPort based on copper, and both parties shared the awesome amount of work on the physical layer it took to make Thunderbolt happen.  Apple in the interest of unification and end-user simplicity also then authored most of the USB-C phy specification, after never having been part of the USB coalition by donating the IP around signal muxing (auto-polarity), legacy DP support, guest protocols, and power control (not exhaustive).  If you download the USB-C spec there is a large number of Apple authors, before that none (although they did help update usb 3 to 3.2).  Apple has been driving these interfaces in conjunction primarily with Intel for a long time, they know as much as anyone about the issues.
    Interesting. 

    In 2015, there was a lot of speculation that Apple was largely responsible for the USB-C spec. 

    https://www.cultofmac.com/321363/apple-patent-explains-how-usb-c-will-make-every-other-connector-obsolete/


    Jon Gruber reckoned that Apple wanted to keep its involvement low-key to further the spec’s chances of adoption. 

    tmaywilliamlondonaderutterargonaut
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