Now that fast ports are the norm on computers, how is Intel going to make Thunderbolt more attractive? By courting enthusiasts who apparently demand a wall of monitors. The company has previewed a next-generation Thunderbolt standard that will provide more bandwidth for multi-monitor setups and other “visually intensive uses.” While the port normally offers 80 gigabits per second of bandwidth, like the USB 4 version 2.0 specification it’s built on, it automatically switches to a special mode with 120 Gbps upstream and 40 Gbps downstream when the resolution or refresh rate of your displays is higher. performance required.
You can also expect DisplayPort 2.1 support, twice the PCI Express data (important for external GPUs), and backwards compatibility with previous formats, as well as passive cables up to 3.3 ft in length.
That’s not far from the new USB 4 standard. As The Verge points out, Intel is betting that consistency will convince PC makers to adopt the new technology. “Many” of USB 4’s new features are optional where they’re needed with the new Thunderbolt, said Jason Ziller of Intel. While the USB Implementers Forum is improving the labeling, you may want Thunderbolt to make sure your gaming rig or creative studio can handle all the monitors you want.
Intel plans to share the final name and capabilities of the updated Thunderbolt standard sometime in 2023. This could give some users a reason to buy Intel computers (or Macs, if Apple takes over) next year. However, it is clear that the gap between Thunderbolt and USB has narrowed considerably. You may not have much of a reason to buy an Intel Core-based PC when a USB 4 equipped AMD system offers nearly identical connectivity.
All products recommended by Engadget have been selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories contain affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission. All prices are correct at time of publication.