Intel Introduces Thunderbolt 4: A Truly Universal Connection

Evan Federowicz
Source: Intel

Intel introduced the newest generation of the Thunderbolt, which is called Thunderbolt 4. This new generation offers increased minimum performance requirements, expanded capabilities, and USB4 specifications. These innovations allow the Thunderbolt connection to support two 4K display, which is double the support that a Thunderbolt 3 connection offers or users can connect a single 8K display!

Intel Announces the Next Generation of the Thunderbolt connections, called Thunderbolt 4 which offers support for up to two 4K displays

"Thunderbolt provides consumers with a leading connectivity standard across a range of devices, helping to advance computing experiences and delivering on the promise of USB-C with simplicity, performance, and reliability. The arrival of Thunderbolt 4 underscores how Intel is advancing the PC ecosystem toward truly universal connectivity solutions." –Jason Ziller, Intel general manager of the Client Connectivity Division.

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Some features 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 is a step in having a single connection setup for even the highest-end gaming computers.

Source: Intel

The bew Thunderbolt connection also enables cables to have a length of up to 2 meters in length. The next generation of Thunderbolt 4 connection allows Thunderbolt docks to feature up to four separate Thunderbolt ports, which allows for not only longer cords but also a larger range of overall connectivity.

While the next-gen Thunderbolt connection offers fantastic new and amazing features but requires nearly double the PCIe speed when compared to a Thunderbolt 3 connection. As the PCIe speed for Thunderbolt 3 is 16 Gb/s while the Thunderbolt 4 connection will require a PCIe speed of up to 32 Gb/s.

One feature that Thunderbolt 4 has that Thunderbolt 3 support at all, Thunderbolt 4, requires Intel VT-d based DMA protection. This software restricts direct memory access, or DMA, of the devices to pre-assigned domains or physical memory regions. This protection is achieved by a hardware capability, which is known as DMA-remapping.

Another feature of the fact that Thunderbolt 4 will also be fully compatible with Thunderbolt 3 peripherals and other Thunderbolt 3 devices. This means that even if you currently have a Thunderbolt 3 dock, you won't be forced to upgrade your dock if you upgrade to Thunderbolt 4.

Intel is expecting to deliver the new Thunderbolt generation controller in the 8000 series currently, three controllers are planned. The first two JHL8540 and JHL8340 are the host controllers, while the JHL8440 is the device controllers.

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