If you’re as hooked on cutting-edge tech as we are, you’ve probably been following Intel’s Thunderbolt journey closely. Well, we’ve got some thrilling news for you: Thunderbolt 5 is on the horizon, and it might just be the cable upgrade we’ve all been dreaming of.
Let’s rewind a bit to 2020 when Thunderbolt 4 hit the scene. It was a step up from Thunderbolt 3, offering the same 40 gigabits per second (Gbps) bandwidth but with added efficiency. This meant support for multiple 4K screens and faster storage speeds. Plus, Thunderbolt 4 made USB-C charging a must-have feature.
Thunderbolt 5 is a significant leap forward. Built on the USB4 V2 spec, it maintains those speed improvements but with some game-changing requirements. Imagine a baseline speed of 80Gbps, with the potential for 120Gbps using bandwidth boosting (USB4 only requires 20Gbps). It also supports dual 6K screens (compared to Thunderbolt 4’s dual 4K requirement) and ensures a minimum of 140 watts of charging power, with a powerful 240W mode.
From its Light Peak origins, Intel’s vision for Thunderbolt has been a single cable that handles all your data and power needs. With Thunderbolt 5’s 240W charging capability, some gaming laptops and workstations might bid farewell to separate power ports. Fewer cables to lug around and the convenience of using a standard USB-C cable for charging? Count us in!
Thunderbolt 5 is set to support the DisplayPort 2.1 and PCI Express Gen 4 standards. This is a game-changer, especially for external GPUs that have been limited by bandwidth constraints. The extra bandwidth will also pave the way for exciting accessories like external AI accelerators and super-speedy external storage.
The only downside is that we’ll have to wait until 2024 for Thunderbolt 5 accessories and PCs to hit the market. It’s a bit of a wait, but Intel might be playing it safe to prevent people from holding off on buying new systems this year.