Intel showcases next gen Thunderbolt connection with 80 Gbps bandwidth
Intel recently demonstrated a next gen Thunderbolt connection with 80 Gbps bandwidth at the IDC in Haifa, Israel. As reported by Tom’s Hardware, the showcased test system featured dual Thunderbolt lanes, each running at 40 Gbps through a USB-C cable, thus effectively doubling the speeds of the current Thunderbolt 4 standard.
Thunderbolt has been the go-to high speed port on premium consumer-level computers for quite some time, but it was initially restricted to Apple and Intel-powered devices. Even though the standard is now license-free, its implementation still requires special controllers sold only by Intel, and very few AMD-powered systems feature it. Meanwhile, USB4 was released to essentially match the 40 Gbps bandwidth of the Thunderbolt 4 connector. AMD’s new Ryzen 7000 and X670 motherboards support USB4, yet very few desktop and laptop models actually integrate it, with some even specifying that an Intel controller is included.
It seems like Intel rushed to showcase an improved Thunderbolt connector just a few weeks after the announcement of the USB4 2.0 spec, which also doubles its bandwidth to 80 Gbps. Intel did not mention any official naming scheme for the demoed version. Considering that Intel chose to go from Thunderbolt 3.0 to 4.0 without modifying the maximum bandwidth, it could go with Thunderbolt 5.0 for the new version.
Team Blue might need to further tune the next gen Thunderbolt specs since the USB4 2.0 standard can be easily modified to reach a maximum bandwidth of 120 Gbps. However, seeing how difficult it is to implement even the first USB4 version in AMD-powered systems, Intel probably does not need to worry too much about USB4 2.0 just yet.