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The next generation of Thunderbolt doesn’t have a name yet but promises 3x capability of its predecessor

1 min read
The next generation of Thunderbolt doesn’t have a name yet but promises 3x capability of its predecessor
Intel demonstrates early prototype for next-gen Thunderbolt based on newly released USB4 v2 spec. (Credit: Intel Corporation)

Intel has posted details about the next generation of Thunderbolt, which could be another step toward a more universal port that works with a variety of products.

According to The Verge, the brand recently previewed Thunderbolt 4.2, detailing its specifications and confirming that the port can “deliver up to three times the capability of Thunderbolt 4.”

The new Thunderbolt standard supports up to 80 gigabits per second both ways and is backward compatible with existing Thunderbolt 4 cables up to one meter long, with the addition of a special mode that allows for 120Gbps up and 40Gbps down when supporting multiple high-end monitors on a single cable.

The next generation of Thunderbolt doesn’t have a name yet but promises 3x capability of its predecessor
The next generation of Thunderbolt delivers up to 120 gigabits per second. (Credit: Intel Corporation)

According to The Verge, these specifications are very similar to those of the recently announced USB 4 version 2.0 standard, which was unveiled by the USB Promoter Group last month.

The new Thunderbolt standard, on the other hand, includes not only USB 4 version 2.0 specifications but also support for DisplayPort 2.1 and twice the PCIe throughput. Intel is doing everything possible to make the future-proof standard.

“Many portions of the USB4 v2 specification are optional leading to variability in implementation, Thunderbolt defines a higher bar and delivers the most complete solution,” Intel’s client computing group general manager, Jason Ziller told The Verge in an email.

Similarly, the Video Electronics Standards Association (VESA) announced its latest DisplayPort 2.1 specification earlier this week, but previously announced DisplayPort UHBR (Ultra-high Bit Rate) support in March as part of an effort to standardize video port capabilities. The cables will be labeled with the Ultra-High Bit Rate (UHBR) certification based on their transfer rates of “DP40” for 10 gigabits per second per lane or “DP80” for 20 gigabits per second per lane.

The 40 and 80 represent the maximum bandwidth of the cables when all four DisplayPort lanes are used. Notably, the connectors on many DisplayPort dongles are USB-style.

In 2023, Intel plans to reveal more information about the official branding of its new Thunderbolt standard.