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Thunderbolt support will come to ARM Macs says Apple

Apple's ARM-based Macs will support Intel's Thunderbolt high-speed I/O technology. (Image: Intel)
Apple's ARM-based Macs will support Intel's Thunderbolt high-speed I/O technology. (Image: Intel)
One concern that Apple Mac fans have had is whether Apple’s new ARM-based Macs will continue to support Intel’s Thunderbolt high-speed I/O tech. In statement provided to The Verge, Apple has confirmed that it will continue to support Thunderbolt despite its forthcoming transition from Intel to ‘Apple silicon’.

Apple’s long-awaited transition from Intel to ARM-based Macs is official and it has got the tech world buzzing with anticipation of the first Macs with ‘Apple silicon’ to hit the market. However, with the first ARM-based Macs expected to arrive late this year, there has been some concern that these new Macs will have to forgo Intel’s Thunderbolt high-speed I/O technology. After all, Thunderbolt has been designed specifically with Intel’s own x86-based chips in mind.

Thankfully, Apple has now cleared the air in a statement to The Verge reminding everyone of Apple’s original contribution to the development of the technology in the process:

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. We remain committed to the future of Thunderbolt and will support it in Macs with Apple silicon.

The statement seems to imply that Apple will once again be partnering with Intel on developing a solution for Thunderbolt that will interface with Apple’s new system architecture. This would make Apple’s Macs the first ARM-based devices to support Thunderbolt. That said, Apple’s iPads already support the USB-C standard – while not Thunderbolt, Thunderbolt 3 has been integrated into the forthcoming USB 4 standard. This may or may not mean a bespoke solution is necessary, but the news does follow Intel’s announcement of Thunderbolt 4 tech which is also inbound.


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Sanjiv Sathiah, 2020-07- 9 (Update: 2020-07- 9)