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Intel today shared some new details on the upcoming launch of Thunderbolt 4, which is set debut later this year.


While Thunderbolt 4 won't deliver any increase over the maximum 40 Gb/s available on Thunderbolt 3, there are some notable improvements such as universal cables up to two meters long without needing to resort to active cables that omit support for slower USB standards as on Thunderbolt 3, the ability to support docks and other accessories with up to four Thunderbolt 4 ports (one upstream, three downstream), and more.
Thunderbolt 4 certification requirements include:

  • Double the minimum video and data requirements of Thunderbolt 3.
    Video: Support for two 4K displays or one 8K display.
  • Data: PCIe at 32 Gbps for storage speeds up to 3,000 MBps.
[*]Support for docks with up to four Thunderbolt 4 ports.
[*]PC charging on at least one computer port.
[*]Wake your computer from sleep by touching the keyboard or mouse when connected to a Thunderbolt dock.
[*]Required Intel VT-d-based direct memory access (DMA) protection that helps prevent physical DMA attacks.
Thunderbolt 4 ports and cables are fully backward and cross-compatible with USB4, Thunderbolt 3, and other USB standards, and it continues to use the USB-C physical connector design.

thunderbolt_4_accessories.jpg

Thunderbolt 4 will be coming first to Intel's upcoming Tiger Lake processors for notebooks, with separate 8000-series controller chips coming later this year.

Apple, of course, has just announced that it will be transitioning away from Intel processors to its own Apple Silicon chips across its Mac lineup over the next couple of years, and it remains to be seen how Apple will handle Thunderbolt support going forward. The A12Z-based Mac mini units Apple is distributing to developers to help them prepare their apps for the transition do not include any Thunderbolt 3 ports.

Article Link: Intel Shares Details on Thunderbolt 4, Launching Later This Year
 
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AnonMac50

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Mar 24, 2010
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Which probably means they have a version of the Pro XDR Display that connects with something other than Thunderbolt.
 
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endlessike

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Jun 8, 2010
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Thunderbolt was co-developed with Apple from the beginning. I don’t think it’s fair to say that it’s an Intel only IP.

I am curious whether Thunderbolt 4 will do away with the reserved bandwidth for DisplayPort.
 

Val-kyrie

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I don't see the point of a dock which converts one TB 3/4 port to three TB3/4 ports. There are so few accessories which use TB 3/4 that the inclusion of more TB ports requires the use of more adapters / specialized conversion cables.

Moreover, that one TB 3/4 In Port is unable to provide full bandwidth to the other 3 TB 3/4 Out Ports at the same time, so it is going to have to split the bandwidth to the other 3 TB 3/4 Out Ports. This just makes no sense. Daisy-chaining devices directly makes more sense.

The traditional port which provides the bandwidth from a single TB 3/4 In Line to outgoing ports is what consumers need.
 

endlessike

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Jun 8, 2010
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I thought we all just assumed that for Apple Silicon Mac’s they’d use USB 4 which is royalty free. Doesn’t need intel and backward compatible with thunderbolt 3 ect.

I don’t assume that at all. Apple has been all-in on Thunderbolt, and it’s customers understand that branding. I think you are asking John Q Consumer to take a pretty big leap if they have to start worrying about peripheral compatibility and software compatibility in a single upgrade cycle.
 

boss.king

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Apr 8, 2009
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That was honestly a terrible video.

He highlighted the USB A port for mouse and keyboard support, then used wireless peripherals that might as well just have used bluetooth.

He mentioned "less cable clutter" while waving his hand over a maze of cables snaking over one another.

At no point does he contextualise the new TB4 specs with what we currently have on TB3 (I get that this is a tech preview, but who actually remembers TB specs off the top of their head?)
 

Val-kyrie

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I don’t assume that at all. Apple has been all-in on Thunderbolt, and it’s customers understand that branding. I think you are asking John Q Consumer to take a pretty big leap if they have to start worrying about peripheral compatibility and software compatibility in a single upgrade cycle.

Apple will drop TB connectivity in the same way they dropped FW (FireWire). USB 4 is a direct replacement for TB 3/4 and offers the same bandwidth without the need to be certified by Intel (which costs money).

[Edit: The fact that USB 4 and TB 3/4 both use USB-C means that Apple will not have any difference visually between ports on Intel-based Macs and ARM-based Macs. This will assuage consumers psychologically.]
 
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jgbr

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most apple kit will be fine with USB4, even more so under Apple silicon.
 

MVMNT

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If they can't get TB4 - ARM Macs will probably come with "Lightning 2"
 

chucker23n1

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Apple will drop TB connectivity in the same way they dropped FW (FireWire). USB 4 is a direct replacement for TB 3/4 and offers the same bandwidth without the need to be certified by Intel (which costs money).

[Edit: The fact that USB 4 and TB 3/4 both use USB-C means that Apple will not have any difference visually between ports on Intel-based Macs and ARM-based Macs. This will assuage consumers psychologically.]

"USB4" is very vague. If they literally drop support for external PCIe, that raises quite a few questions. Will Apple Silicon Macs have a notion of eGPUs, for example?
 

Val-kyrie

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Feb 13, 2005
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Thunderbolt 4 certification requirements include:

  • Double the minimum video and data requirements of Thunderbolt 3.
    Video: Support for two 4K displays or one 8K display.
  • Data: PCIe at 32 Gbps for storage speeds up to 3,000 MBps.
[*]Support for docks with up to four Thunderbolt 4 ports.
[*]PC charging on at least one computer port.
[*]Wake your computer from sleep by touching the keyboard or mouse when connected to a Thunderbolt dock.
[*]Required Intel VT-d-based direct memory access (DMA) protection that helps prevent physical DMA attacks.


Intel is ensuring AMD cannot use the TB 4 moniker with this last "requirement." This is perfect marketing since Intel has misrepresented the bandwidth capabilities of USB 4 as being limited to 10Gbps, when in fact USB 4 also does PCIe at 32 Gbps.
 
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endlessike

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Jun 8, 2010
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Apple will drop TB connectivity in the same way they dropped FW (FireWire). USB 4 is a direct replacement for TB 3/4 and offers the same bandwidth without the need to be certified by Intel (which costs money).

[Edit: The fact that USB 4 and TB 3/4 both use USB-C means that Apple will not have any difference visually between ports on Intel-based Macs and ARM-based Macs. This will assuage consumers psychologically.]

Apple co-developed Thunderbolt with Intel and presumably continues to have ownership in underlying IP.
 
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Val-kyrie

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"USB4" is very vague. If they literally drop support for external PCIe, that raises quite a few questions. Will Apple Silicon Macs have a notion of eGPUs, for example?

No eGPUs for ARM-based Macs. There are several articles on other tech sites which argue (I believe correctly) that Apple is moving away from AMD-based GPUs and going with its own silicon completely. Watch and see, but Apple-only silicon means just that. Many Apple-fans are going to be very disappointed.
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Apple co-developed Thunderbolt with Intel and presumably continues to have ownership in underlying IP.

Yes, but Apple will not want to include Intel's controller. Now that USB has parity with TB, the inclusion of TB will become a non-issue in Apple's eyes. Just look at the developer Mac Minis. No TB!
 

chucker23n1

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No eGPUs for ARM-based Macs. There are several articles on other tech sites which argue (I believe correctly) that Apple is moving away from AMD-based GPUs and going with its own silicon completely. Watch and see, but Apple-only silicon means just that. Many Apple-fans are going to be very disappointed.

Maybe. I don't entirely buy that they went through the trouble of implementing GPU hot-plug only to ditch that a few years later.
 

Stephen.R

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If they can't get TB4 - ARM Macs will probably come with "Lightning 2"
Zero chance. The iPad Pro already uses USB-c.

"USB4" is very vague. If they literally drop support for external PCIe, that raises quite a few questions. Will Apple Silicon Macs have a notion of eGPUs, for example?
The egpu question is probably more related to drivers/os support going forward than the pcie support.

(edit to add: this may be more an issue of loss by attrition. If New Macs don’t include amd GPUs then newer cards for use in egpus are unlikely to work well/at all)

given the push on tb3 over the last few years the chances of dropping that seems pretty low.
 
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