Apple has confirmed that despite its move from Intel to ARM-based processors on Mac, it will continue to support Thunderbolt in its future Macs with Apple Silicon. The announcement comes on the same day as Intel announced Thunderbolt 4 and its specifications.
Apple Silicon-based Macs are expected to be announced by the end of this year. The company has not yet released any ARM-based product with support for Thunderbolt - including the iPad Pro which has a USB-C port. Even the Developer Transition Kit Mac mini, which Apple released in June to a specific group of developers, does not support Thunderbolt. This let to questions regarding the future of the standard that Apple was instrumental in developing alongside Intel.
In a statement to The Verge, Apple confirmed that Thunderbolt is part of its future plans.
“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,”
Although Thunderbolt 4 is not really faster than Thunderbolt 3, it will provide some improvements that will make it better than the older standard. It will still have a speed of 40Gb/s, but will be able to power two 4K displays. For complete details, check out our coverage of Thunderbolt 4.
Apple announced its plans to transition from Intel processors to its own custom Apple Silicon. The 2-year transition has started with the introduction of macOS Big Sur, Xcode 12, A12z-powered Mac mini for developers, and a bunch of documentation to help devs get started. The company announced that it will be releasing its first ARM-based Macs by the end of this year, and will gradually transition the rest of the products in its Mac line-up over the coming years. Apple announced that it still has some Intel-based Macs in the pipeline which it will announce soon.