USB 3, USB 4, Thunderbolt, & USB-C -- everything you need to know

Posted:
in General Discussion edited May 2022
With the varieties of USB and Thunderbolt terminology floating about, as well as new versions being adopted by Apple and other device producers, sorting out the mess can be a problem. Here's what you need to know about USB 3, USB 4, Thunderbolt 3, and Thunderbolt 4.




For most users, there are two general families of multi-purpose connections: USB and Thunderbolt. Both have their benefits and their foibles, as well as sharing many characteristics, but the two technology trees are, largely, quite different.

If you don't read any further, here's your main takeaway: The term "USB-C" by itself doesn't specify anything for data, charging, or video beyond the physicality of the connector. But, as you might expect, there are a lot of details behind USB 3, USB 4, Thunderbolt 3, and Thunderbolt 4, and how they pertain to the USB-C connector.

USB, USB 2.0, USB 3.0, USB 3.1, USB 3.2

Initially released in 1996, the USB (Universal Serial Bus) standard is the older of the two connection types, created by a group of companies including IBM, Microsoft, Intel, and others, and maintained by the USB Implementers Forum.





USB aimed to create a standard that would work across multiple different devices, unifying the myriad of technologies down to one, as the name suggests. Cables would use a specific type of connector and the wires within a cable in one particular prescribed way, and that would be essentially the same across the board, with relatively few exceptions.

This reliance on a small selection of robust connectors meant it was easier for users to manage multiple devices without worrying about running out of ports, struggling to find the correct port on their computer, or even finding the right cable. For the most part, this involved a connector known as USB Type-A being plugged into computers, which we will discuss later.

USB also enabled power to be provided to the device at the same time as power, which helped cut down on the number of cables a user needed to manage in their setup.

USB started with a data rate of 1.5Mb/s and 12Mb/s In "Low Speed" and "Full Speed" variants, rates which were blisteringly fast at the time of its release, though the "Full Speed" version technically arrived as part of USB 1.1. However, subsequent updates increased the transfer speeds to match the needs of consumers and enterprise users.

In 2001, USB 2.0 shipped with a third tier of speed dubbed "High Speed," which boosted the bandwidth up to 480Mb/s, 40 times the speed of USB 1.1's implementation.

Crucially for users, USB 2.0 connections were backward compatible with USB 1 variants, which allowed devices using the two different standards to continue communicating, albeit at a lower data rate. Keeping the connection backward compatible with earlier iterations was kept up in subsequent releases, which makes it far easier for computer users to connect hardware up without as much of a worry about it not being compatible.

USB Type-A connectors with blue elements typically signify USB 3.0 support
USB Type-A connectors with blue elements typically signify USB 3.0 support


USB 3.0 became the gigabit era, with what is termed "SuperSpeed." USB 3.0 started with a data rate of 5Gb/s when it was introduced in 2011. As part of the standard, small changes were made to the connectors that USB 3.0 required, including the common use of blue-colored plugs and sockets to indicate compatibility with the faster speeds, though the all-important USB Type-A was still backward compatible with earlier versions.

USB 3.1 in 2014 arrived with two variants, with Gen 1 keeping USB 3.0's SuperSpeed mode and 5Gbps data rate, while Gen 2 used what was called "SuperSpeed+" and doubled the effective maximum data rate to 10Gbps. At the same time, a new connector was introduced, USB Type-C, which was an alternative option to USB Type-A for USB 3.1 and USB 3.0 but wasn't really used until the next generation.

Announced in 2017, the introduction of USB 3.2 kept support for SuperSpeed and SuperSpeed+, but also added another two transfer modes that offered connections at up to 10Gbps and 20Gbps. Furthermore, to attain the 20Gbps speed, a USB-C connection had to be used due to standards changes that took advantage of the connector.

Just to confuse matters further, the USB Implementers Forum stepped in with a rebranding exercise in 2019.

USB 3.0 and USB 3.1 were given the new technical names of USB 3.2 Gen 1 and USB 3.2 Gen 2, respectively, while what was known as USB 3.2 became USB 3.2 Gen 2x2. Each was also given marketing names of SuperSpeed USB, SuperSpeed USB 10Gbps, and SuperSpeed USB 20Gbps.

Modern hardware that uses USB largely relies on USB 3.0 and USB 3.1, though USB 3.2 hardware started to arrive in 2019, with more appearing in 2020.

As we said before, if you take anything away from all this, all USB-C means by itself is what kind of physical connector is being used. "USB-C" on its own with no other modifiers says precisely nothing about charging, data speed, or anything else.

Thunderbolt, Thunderbolt 2

Designed in a collaboration between Apple and Intel, Thunderbolt is an alternative to USB that was brought to the market in 2011, but was initially shown off as Light Peak by Intel in 2009, running on a Mac Pro. Compared to USB, Thunderbolt aimed to offer considerable benefits, including multiplexing data lanes for PCIe and DisplayPort hardware together, namely mixing data with video, as well as a fast data rate of 10Gbps for each of the two channels, 20Gbps in total.

The original version of Thunderbolt relied on a Mini DisplayPort connection, with the ports on Mac devices able to be used for either Thunderbolt or as a Mini DisplayPort.

Apple's Thunderbolt cables, which used Mini DisplayPort connectors.
Apple's Thunderbolt cables, which used the same connector as Mini DisplayPort.


An important part of Thunderbolt is daisy-chaining devices together, with the original Thunderbolt able to handle up to six compatible devices in such a chain. Due to its ability to handle both data and video signals, Thunderbolt also allowed displays to be part of the chain, with it typically terminating the chain if it didn't support daisy-chaining.

Two years later, Thunderbolt 2 was introduced, which brought support for DisplayPort 1.2, which meant it could handle 4K-resolution video on a monitor. Like USB, Thunderbolt 2 is also backward compatible with Thunderbolt 1.

The critical change in Thunderbolt 2 was how it handled the channels. Due to enabling channel aggregation, Thunderbolt 2 combined the two 10Gbps channels, enabling up to 20Gbps data rates instead of two 10Gbps channels, increasing the maximum theoretical bandwidth for individual connections.

Thunderbolt 3

Thunderbolt 3 was a step up from Thunderbolt 2 for quite a few reasons. The main benefit was an increase of bandwidth up to 40Gbps, which equated to four PCIe 3.0 lanes, eight DisplayPort 1.2 lanes, and multiple USB 3.1 lanes.

As well as increasing the bandwidth, the connection also made it possible to use a pair of 4K displays running at 60Hz or one 5K-resolution display. The massive bandwidth available also means it can be used in other ways, such as with eGPU enclosures to enable an external graphics card to improve the graphical processing of a connected computer.

Apple's Thunderbolt 3 Pro cable uses USB Type-C connectors and a black braided design.
Apple's Thunderbolt 3 Pro cable uses USB Type-C connectors and a black braided design.


As Thunderbolt 3 used the USB Type-C connector, devices using Thunderbolt 3 also typically include support for USB hardware that uses Type-C connectors. These devices will work at the same speeds as the USB standard it uses, not Thunderbolt 3's faster speeds.

By employing USB Type-C connectors, Thunderbolt 3 devices can also utilize its power delivery capabilities, enabling up to 100W of power to run through the cable to other hardware. For MacBook users, this is handy when using a Thunderbolt 3 dock, as the one cable from the dock to the MacBook Pro can recharge the notebook while still providing all the expected data functionality without requiring a separate power cable for the MacBook.

But, not all Thunderbolt 3 cables are equal. With Thunderbolt 3, short, passive cables are capable of 40 gigabits per second, with long and passive cables only capable of 20 gigabits per second. For full speed on those longer runs, you need an active cable. And, max charging power may vary depending on the manufacturer. We're not going to delve too deeply into this here, as we have done so before.

Continuing the tradition of backward compatibility, Thunderbolt 3 ports and hardware will work with Thunderbolt 2 connections, albeit at slower speeds, using adapters.

USB 4

In 2019, the USB IF announced it had completed its standard for USB 4. While not seemingly out of the ordinary, the announcement unexpectedly revealed that the next generation of USB 4 was effectively Thunderbolt 3, though with small tweaks.

Like Thunderbolt 3, USB 4 uses a Type-C connector, has a throughput of up to 40Gbps, power delivery of up to 100W, support for 4K and 5K displays, and backward compatibility with USB 3.2 and USB 2.

USB 4 will continue to use USB Type-C connections, and will also support Thunderbolt 3.
USB 4 will continue to use USB Type-C connections, and will also support Thunderbolt 3.


It also includes support for Thunderbolt 3 itself, though it is technically optional. A device can be set up not to have support for the standard, but given the benefits, it seems unlikely that a hardware vendor would disable it.

As a further upgrade from earlier USB generations, USB4 also supports PCIe tunneling and DisplayPort 1.4a, which can help take advantage of the higher throughput. However, if there's no support for PCIe tunneling in the host or device, the maximum bandwidth for non-display purposes is limited to 20Gbps.

While the USB 4 standard was introduced in 2019, there was the usual lag before device vendors started supporting the new USB standards.

Apple was among the first producers to support USB 4 in its hardware, with the November 2020 launch of the Apple Silicon-based MacBook Air, 13-MacBook Pro, and Mac mini. Later Mac releases continued to adopt the standard.

Thunderbolt 4

Launched in 2020, Thunderbolt 4 is Intel's move to improve upon the groundwork of Thunderbolt 3. Unlike the shift from Thunderbolt 2 to Thunderbolt 3, there's no change to the 40Gbps throughput Thunderbolt 4 provides, but the way it does so is improved.

The standard increases the minimum video and data requirements from what Thunderbolt 3 certification demanded. Rather than supporting one 4K display, a Thunderbolt 4 device must handle at least two 4K displays or one 8K screen, while the PCIe support for storage must support 32Gbps transfers up from 16Gbps.

Intel's list of improvements Thunderbolt 4 has over Thunderbolt 3, USB 4, and USB 3.
Intel's list of improvements Thunderbolt 4 has over Thunderbolt 3, USB 4, and USB 3.


Thunderbolt 4 also includes support for docks with up to four Thunderbolt 4 ports, with the bonus ability to be able to wake a computer by touching the keyboard or mouse when both the peripherals and the computer are connected to the dock.

For those with cable concerns, Thunderbolt 4 makes it possible for 40Gbps connections to operate at full efficiency with passive cables up to 2 meters in length. On the security side, there's added protection against physical direct memory access (DMA) attacks, required as part of the minimum specification.

Continuing its use of Thunderbolt in its products, it's no surprise that Apple includes Thunderbolt 4 support in some of its hardware. The first to do so are the 14-inch MacBook Pro and the 16-inch MacBook Pro, followed by the Mac Studio.

Apple's port support confusion

With USB Type-C used across multiple standards, it may seem like Apple's hardware supports all of the latest connections. However, depending on the model of the device and the configuration in some cases, support can vary greatly.

For example, the 24-inch iMac includes four USB Type-C ports on the rear, and while all four support USB 3, two support Thunderbolt 3. You can tell the difference as the Thunderbolt-equipped ports have the lightning bolt icon near them, but this isn't a reliable indicator across all ports of this type.

In another example, the Mac Studio's rear ports all support USB 4 and Thunderbolt 4, but depending on whether you have an M1 Max or M1 Ultra configuration, the two Type-C ports at the front support Thunderbolt 4 or USB 3. The ports aren't marked to say what they are either, so you'll only know by actively using the connection or being aware of the model.

With the introduction of the Apple Silicon models, there's the further confusion about Apple's naming scheme, as it refers to the ports as being "Thunderbolt/USB 4" in nature. Apple doesn't explain this adequately in its literature, but this means it supports USB 4 and Thunderbolt 3.

When Apple deems a port to be Thunderbolt 4, it really does mean Thunderbolt 4. Since it requires USB 4 to function, such ports can handle both Thunderbolt 4 and USB 4 connections.

As of April 2022, there are only three Macs with proper Thunderbolt 4 ports:
  • Mac Studio (2022)
  • 14-inch MacBook Pro (2021)
  • 16-inch MacBook Pro (2021)
There are also four Mac models with "Thunderbolt/USB 4" ports, meaning supporting USB 4 and Thunderbolt 3:
  • 24-inch iMac (2021)
  • 13-inch MacBook Pro (2020)
  • MacBook Air (2020)
  • Mac mini (2020)
Apple's support page includes an exhaustive list of ports used on Mac models, which can be handy to read if you're uncertain about what ports your particular Mac has.

Connections - USB-A, USB-C, and others

While USB can use quite a few different connection types like Mini and Micro, there are only three predominant standard versions that Apple users need to consider. They have a simple naming structure: Type-A, Type-B, and Type-C.

Since the introduction, Type-A was known as the slim rectangular connector that plugged into the Mac, PC, or USB hub, while Type-B was used on the peripheral or device end. While the Type-B connector could be switched out for a different type from the expanded connector roster, the Type-A always remained on one end.

The introduction of USB 3.0 was also an opportunity for changes to the main Type-A and Type-B connectors, adding more pins within the connector and more wires to transfer even more data. While Type-B altered its design to be taller, Type-A remained physically the same but gained extra pins in new locations, enabling it to still work with ports and connectors that didn't use them and therefore maintaining backward compatibility.

To signify to consumers that they were meant for USB 3.0 connections, Type-A and Type-B ports and connectors were typically colored blue on non-Apple gear, differentiating them from the usual black used for the ports.

Cables for Lightning, USB Type-C, and USB Type-A, along with a MacBook Pro's Thunderbolt 3 ports
Cables for Lightning, USB Type-C, and USB Type-A, along with a MacBook Pro's Thunderbolt 3 ports


Type-C, which works with USB 3.1 and later generations, changed the connector's design to introduce considerably more contact points and wire pairs to the mix. While earlier connections allowed for some level of physical backward compatibility, as with Type-A, Type-C doesn't offer that feature.

USB Type-C's design eliminates the public's pain point with Type-A, in that sometimes they have to flip the cable around as they tried blindly inserting it upside down. For Type-C, the connector works in both orientations.

USB Type-C's specification also includes an improved Power Delivery specification, which can take advantage of higher wattages. Under Power Delivery, USB Type-C connections can provide up to 100 watts of power, enabling it to recharge hardware like a MacBook and use the cable for data transfers.

This list only covers the USB connectors going into the Mac or PC, not what is being used on the other end. In earlier generations, there were Mini USB and Micro USB connectors in different varieties, though they have been depreciated since USB 3.0's introduction, except for Micro USB B or Micro-B SuperSpeed.

With the introduction of USB Type-C, device producers are shifting from using Micro USB variants in favor of Type-C due to its compact size and relative futureproofing.

The discussion of connectors isn't complete without mentioning that the connectors do not necessarily have to be used for USB connections but are known mainly for use with them. In the case of Type-C, it found another use in Thunderbolt 3 and Thunderbolt 4.

Pay attention to cables

The use of USB Type-C connections in both USB and Thunderbolt has led to an issue for consumers wanting to acquire cables to connect their devices. A consumer may assume a cable that works for one will be perfectly adequate for the other, but as AppleInsider has repeatedly explained, this is not true.

For a start, while some Thunderbolt cables can work as a USB 3.1 Type-C cable, not every Thunderbolt cable can do so. Conversely, a USB 3.1 Type-C cable will never operate as a Thunderbolt cable.

A collection of Thunderbolt 3 and USB 2.0 Type-C Apple charging cables
A collection of Thunderbolt 3 and USB 2.0 Type-C Apple charging cables -- and each one has different performance characteristics.


Indeed, while modern controllers may allow for failback, which enables a Thunderbolt 3 peripheral to function on a USB 3.2 Type-C cable at a slower speed, for example, there's no guarantee that this will be available to use.

Then there's the matter of new-kid Thunderbolt 4, which has prompted the arrival of Thunderbolt 4 cables. Thanks to backward compatibility, you can use it to connect Thunderbolt 4 and Thunderbolt 3 devices, and you won't really see much difference in most applications as it will run at a still-fast Thunderbolt 3 bandwidth level.

However, if you're connecting two Thunderbolt 4 ports, while you could get away with using a Thunderbolt 3 cable, you really should use a Thunderbolt 4-compatible version.

Further complicating matters is the problem of passive and active cables. Passive Thunderbolt cables are almost always fully compatible with USB 3.1 Type-C peripherals, but the data rate deteriorates at longer distances, typically halving Thunderbolt 3 throughput to 20Gbps at a length of two meters.

Active cables include transceivers that can regulate the data passing through the cable, allowing a cable to run much longer without the same throughput loss. However, such active cables are less likely to provide USB 3.1 Type-C compatibility.

Cables can even vary in the amount of power that can be passed through it. While Thunderbolt 4, Thunderbolt 3, and USB 3.2 allow for up to 100W of power delivery, any given cable may not be able to handle that much power and be limited to as low as 15W.

So -- when you buy a cable, know what you're buying. And, after purchase, come up with your own way to label the cables so you know what the characteristics are, because as we've demonstrated in the above picture, you won't be able to tell at a glance what does what.

Read on AppleInsider
dysamoria
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 46
    wood1208wood1208 Posts: 2,917member
    Nice to USB 4 compliant to Thunderbolt 4 but not compatible with the Data transfer speed.
  • Reply 2 of 46
    DAalsethDAalseth Posts: 2,809member
    So to attach a TB 3 drive to my older TB 2 iMac I’ll need a cable adaptor. Am I correct in assuming it’s just a plug adaptor, it doesn’t need to do any translation or conversion of the data. With that the TB 3 drive will appear and we’ll be ready to go, albeit at TB2 speeds.
    jellybelly
  • Reply 3 of 46
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 6,869administrator
    DAalseth said:
    So to attach a TB 3 drive to my older TB 2 iMac I’ll need a cable adaptor. Am I correct in assuming it’s just a plug adaptor, it doesn’t need to do any translation or conversion of the data. With that the TB 3 drive will appear and we’ll be ready to go, albeit at TB2 speeds.
    It's just an adapter.

    https://www.apple.com/shop/product/MMEL2AM/A/thunderbolt-3-usb-c-to-thunderbolt-2-adapter

    The adapter is bidirectional. For your use, you'd connect a TB2 cable from your Mac to the adapter, and the USB-C male end to the drive.
    DAalsethdysamoria
  • Reply 4 of 46
    DAalseth said:
    So to attach a TB 3 drive to my older TB 2 iMac I’ll need a cable adaptor.
    An expensive cable.
    I just bought a new iMac.
    Needed to connect iMac to backup drive.
    Had to buy T3 to T2 adaptor cable.
    $64 including cable, tax and delivery fee.
    DAalsethentropys
  • Reply 5 of 46
    F_Kent_DF_Kent_D Posts: 98unconfirmed, member
    This is another reason Apple isn’t putting USB-C on iPhones anytime soon IMO. Too much confusion as to what the cable is capable of. The last photo shows several cables that appear to be the same yet are completely different. My Son had a certain Anker USB-C cable for his MacBook to charge with. It wouldn’t charge his MacBook but would charge my iPad Pro. Same brick, different cable and his MacBook charges fine. While convenient, USB-C is just as inconvenient with all the variations and capabilities that aren’t visible on the outside.
    doozydozencornchip
  • Reply 6 of 46
    entropysentropys Posts: 4,199member
    I discovered the other day that I can’t daisy chain two monitors (2k and 1080p) with an MBP using USB-C to the first monitor and then DisplayPort to the second. Apparently In Mac world daisy chain is only allowed via thunderbolt, as Apple has never written a driver for Multi Stream Transport (MST).
    So only thunderbolt monitors can daisy chain  apparently with a Mac.

    My crappy work HP, on the other hand, can do MST without any problems.
    edited August 2020 caladaniandoozydozenanantksundaramdysamoria
  • Reply 7 of 46
    bsnjonbsnjon Posts: 39member
    Thanks for the detailed Look at this!
    It seems like we are still many years away from “one cable to rule them all.”
    dysamoria
  • Reply 8 of 46
    What a mess. 
    doozydozenRayz2016uraharaStrangeDaysdysamoriaAKApple
  • Reply 9 of 46
    DAalseth said:
    So to attach a TB 3 drive to my older TB 2 iMac I’ll need a cable adaptor. Am I correct in assuming it’s just a plug adaptor, it doesn’t need to do any translation or conversion of the data. With that the TB 3 drive will appear and we’ll be ready to go, albeit at TB2 speeds.
    It's just an adapter.

    https://www.apple.com/shop/product/MMEL2AM/A/thunderbolt-3-usb-c-to-thunderbolt-2-adapter

    The adapter is bidirectional. For your use, you'd connect a TB2 cable from your Mac to the adapter, and the USB-C male end to the drive.
    This also works with TB 1, TB3 docks and Target Disk mode between a TB1 computer and a TB3 computer. I've yet to find any constraints when using the adapter between any version of TB.
    rundhviddysamoria
  • Reply 10 of 46
    Has anyone used any of these newer TB cables I've been seeing on Amazon? Many claim to be USB 4 / TB 3 at half the price.

    I've seen at lease a dozen cables like this under various brands. They are half to a third of the price of those by OWC, Belkin, CalDigit, etc. The price seems almost too good to be true but I've always thought the cables were over priced, along with other Thunderbolt devices.


    $26
    Thunderbolt 3 Cable (3.3Ft/1M/40Gbps), Basevs TB3 Certified USB C 4.0 Cable 20V/5A 100W
    Supports 1x 5K 60hz or Double 4K 60hz Monitor, External SSD, eGpu (External Gpu), USB-C Docking Station
    https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B081QC5NL1/ref=ox_sc_act_title_1?smid=A1ZALV08C41D0S&psc=1
  • Reply 11 of 46
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 6,869administrator
    Has anyone used any of these newer TB cables I've been seeing on Amazon? Many claim to be USB 4 / TB 3 at half the price.

    I've seen at lease a dozen cables like this under various brands. They are half to a third of the price of those by OWC, Belkin, CalDigit, etc. The price seems almost too good to be true but I've always thought the cables were over priced, along with other Thunderbolt devices.


    $26
    Thunderbolt 3 Cable (3.3Ft/1M/40Gbps), Basevs TB3 Certified USB C 4.0 Cable 20V/5A 100W
    Supports 1x 5K 60hz or Double 4K 60hz Monitor, External SSD, eGpu (External Gpu), USB-C Docking Station
    https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B081QC5NL1/ref=ox_sc_act_title_1?smid=A1ZALV08C41D0S&psc=1
    Nobody's answered my phone calls about this, and requests for review cables have been denied. And, like I said in the previous thread, there is no USB4 certification process yet, so they're at least lying about that.

    We'll see anyway, as they can't stop me from ordering them off Amazon. In theory, they'll be here on Friday.
    edited August 2020 commentzillaDAalsethdoozydozenroundaboutnowbageljoeyfastasleepcaladanianGG1cornchipdysamoria
  • Reply 12 of 46
    Has anyone used any of these newer TB cables I've been seeing on Amazon? Many claim to be USB 4 / TB 3 at half the price.

    I've seen at lease a dozen cables like this under various brands. They are half to a third of the price of those by OWC, Belkin, CalDigit, etc. The price seems almost too good to be true but I've always thought the cables were over priced, along with other Thunderbolt devices.


    $26
    Thunderbolt 3 Cable (3.3Ft/1M/40Gbps), Basevs TB3 Certified USB C 4.0 Cable 20V/5A 100W
    Supports 1x 5K 60hz or Double 4K 60hz Monitor, External SSD, eGpu (External Gpu), USB-C Docking Station
    https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B081QC5NL1/ref=ox_sc_act_title_1?smid=A1ZALV08C41D0S&psc=1
    Nobody's answered my phone calls about this, and requests for review cables have been denied. And, like I said in the previous thread, there is no USB4 certification process yet, so they're at least lying about that.

    We'll see anyway, as they can't stop me from ordering them off Amazon. In theory, they'll be here on Friday.
    I glad you're looking in to this. I'm seeing a flood of these cables. At half the price for an active cable its really tempting to buy one. Some also seem to have a growing number of positive reviews, which may or may not be legit.
    doozydozendysamoria
  • Reply 13 of 46
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 6,957member
    What a mess. 
    Absolutely, as demonstrated by the comments following the article. 

    F_Kent_D said:
    This is another reason Apple isn’t putting USB-C on iPhones anytime soon IMO. Too much confusion as to what the cable is capable of.

    Yup. 

    edited August 2020 caladaniancornchip
  • Reply 14 of 46
    rcfarcfa Posts: 1,124member
    so, what in essence was invented to solve the cable mess in effect made it worse: because now you can’t even visually distinguish what’s compatible with what.

    in the past you may have had a crate full of cables, but generally, when it fit, it worked.

    no longer!
    dysamoriaAKApple
  • Reply 15 of 46
    What's with sound on USB 4/Thunderbolt, are these standards able to carry sound like HDMI does?
  • Reply 16 of 46
    Especially without any markings. :S 

    rcfa said:
    so, what in essence was invented to solve the cable mess in effect made it worse: because now you can’t even visually distinguish what’s compatible with what.

    in the past you may have had a crate full of cables, but generally, when it fit, it worked.

    no longer!

  • Reply 17 of 46
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 6,869administrator
    What's with sound on USB 4/Thunderbolt, are these standards able to carry sound like HDMI does?
    I don't think I understand the question. Both contain the HDMI protocol, so they carry sound like HDMI does.

    Does that answer your question?
    superkloton
  • Reply 18 of 46
    rozhasi said:
    One topic omitted from the article is the two flavors of TB3: Alpine Ridge and Titan Ridge. Alpone Ridge (TB3 gen 1) is only capable of HBR2, whereas Titan Ridge (TB3 gen 2) is capable of HBR3. 

    DisplayPort 1.4 is capable of HBR3, but the DisplayPort specification only allows for 4 HBR lanes. 

    Therefore, if the display has a DP1.4 port, only the Macs with the TB3 Titan Ridge  are capable of delivering 5K to the monitor over 4 lanes. Conversely, TB3 Alpine Ridge only supports HBR2, so 5K cannot be delivered over 4 lanes. 

    TB3 allows for up to 8 lanes to be aggregated for video signal delivery, and that’s how TB3 Alpine Ridge Macs are capable of delivering a 5K signal to the monitor. However, to support the aggregation of eight lanes, the monitor must also have a TB3 chip in it. If the monitor doesn’t have a TB3 chip but only has a DP 1.4 port or a USB-C USB 3.2 gen 2x2 port with DP1.4 alternate mode, the TB3 gen 1 (Alpine Ridge) Macs can’t deliver 5K to such a monitor and are limited to 4K. 

    Additionally, some TB3 Titan Ridge  Macs have iGPUs that are not capable of HBR3 even though their TB3 controller is gen 2 (Titan Ridge) is capable of HBR. Every Mac released since 2018 (as long as the Intel CPU is gen 8, 9, or 10) has the TB3 gen 2 (Titan Ridge) controller. However, 2018, 2019, and 2020 (gen 8 Intel CPU) 13” MacBook Pros don’t support HBR3 in their iGPUs, and neither do 2018 and 2019 MacBook Air. All 15” and 16”  MacBook Pros starting with 2018 support HBR3 because they have discrete GPUs in them. The 2020 MacBook Air and the 2020 13” MacBook Pro (10th gen Intel CPU) support HBR3 in their iGPUs. 

    This is the reason why there aren’t any 5K non-Thunderbolt monitors on the market. The reason is that with the DP1.4 in the monitor via a DP port or USB-C USB3.2 gen 2x2 port (with the DP1.4 alternate mode), only some Macs can deliver 5K to such a monitor. So, releasing such a monitor cuts at least half of the Mac user base from being able to deliver 5K to it. 
    Good info Rohazi. 

    Worth mentioning re later Macs, is the recently announced iMac Pro in 2020, and sometimes referred to as the “2020” iMac Pro—is really still a 2017 iMac Pro with new pricing, starting the lineup with 10-core at the previous 8-core pricing point (and dropping option for 8 core model). The “2020” iMac Pro has DisplayPort 1.2, now ancient. It will not support Apple’s Pro Display XDR (6K 32”).

    It’s a logistical problem if you want two TB3 buses to handle bandwidth: have a 27” nice display included with fast processor AND have external 2nd display that requires DisplayPort 1.3 or 1.4 or above.  

    The 2020 27” iMac has very decent processing at high end configuration and can drive the Apple Pro Display XDR. The problem is it’s single TB3 bus (2 ports) is then flooded by display data, thereby adversely impacting external drive throughput (i.e. SSDs, RAID arrays). 

    I was disappointed, as I have a 16” MBP that has 2 TB3 buses (4 ports) that can handle the Pro Display XDR and handle data from fast storage at near capacity of TB3. 

    I wonder, as have many smart pundits, whether the iMac Pro line will be continued on Apple Silicon. I hope so, as there are plenty of studios that handle professional demand, where a Mac Pro is not needed by everyone or perhaps not even by a one-person studio. The inclusion of a nice display in an iMac Pro saves a lot over buying two displays for a Mac Pro. And the product name “Pro” is a good marketing differentiator.

    ¿ Do you or Malcom O. Or Mke W., know what the USB 4 config is as to the dock capability of 4 ports—whether it’s a hub or chain configuration and how it’s bandwidth is distributed?
  • Reply 19 of 46
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 6,869administrator

    ¿ Do you or Malcom O. Or Mke W., know what the USB 4 config is as to the dock capability of 4 ports—whether it’s a hub or chain configuration and how it’s bandwidth is distributed?
    Hub.

    Bandwidth distribution is allocated on device plug-in, according to the spec. In short, you won't want to plug in a 16gbit/sec peripheral like a NVMe drive to one of those ports and expect a lot out of the other ports, even if you aren't using the fast drive.
    jellybellydysamoria
  • Reply 20 of 46

    ¿ Do you or Malcom O. Or Mke W., know what the USB 4 config is as to the dock capability of 4 ports—whether it’s a hub or chain configuration and how it’s bandwidth is distributed?
    Hub.

    Bandwidth distribution is allocated on device plug-in, according to the spec. In short, you won't want to plug in a 16gbit/sec peripheral like a NVMe drive to one of those ports and expect a lot out of the other ports, even if you aren't using the fast drive.
    Thanks.  
    So multiple TB3 buses on the Mac are desirable.
    ¿ Does the cost of the chipset and its connections to PCIe lanes make it feasible?  

    Any word or hunches on whether we will see PCIe buses on Apple Silicon Macs? I’m not assuming that new Apple Silicon Macs will necessarily follow the architecture of the Developer MacMini. Maybe an advanced bus that is backwards compatible.
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