Thunderbolt, a high-speed hardware interface technology first developed in collaboration between Intel and Apple, made its debut in 2011. Its main goal is to provide fast data transfer rates and support a wide range of data connections and displays through a single port. Over the years, Thunderbolt has seen several versions, each offering better performance and functionality. Intel Thunderbolt 5 will be even better!
Thunderbolt 5 arrives with speeds of up to 120Gbps!
The most recent advancement, Thunderbolt 4, introduced improved display capabilities, enabling support for dual 4K displays or a single 8K display. Additionally, Thunderbolt 4 required support for USB4 specifications. Furthermore, it provided up to 100 W of charging and offered a minimum data transfer rate of 32 Gbps. However, despite these improvements, Thunderbolt 3 and 4 maintain the same total bandwidth of 40 Gbps and compatibility with the PCIe Gen3 standard.
The updated version increased the minimum PCIe data transfer requirement to 32 Gbps. This is although Thunderbolt 3 also supports this speed, although it is not a mandatory requirement. Consequently, gamers using external graphics would not normally recognize any distinction between Thunderbolt 3.0 and 4.0 boxes.
In October of the previous year, Intel revealed its plans for a new generation of Thunderbolt technology.
Today, it officially introduced it as Thunderbolt 5. The standard offers a total bandwidth potential of up to 120 Gbps, depending on the use of Bandwidth Boost technology. Thunderbolt 5, in its default configuration, provides an 80 Gbps bidirectional connection. However, when the need arises for high-resolution displays with higher refresh rates or to accommodate multiple displays, devices can take advantage of the full 120 Gbps speed. In these scenarios, the reception speed can be flexibly adjusted, varying between 80 Gbps and 40 Gbps, as revealed on the website videocardz.com.
A noteworthy feature of Thunderbolt 5 is compatibility with DisplayPort 2.1, USB v4, USB 3 20G and PCIe Gen4. This standard also includes charging support up to 240W, eliminating the need for separate charging cables for some notebook computers. The inclusion of PCIe Gen4 compatibility implies that Thunderbolt 5 unlocks greater bandwidth potential for external GPUs, potentially addressing one of the key limitations of the Thunderbolt 3 and 4 standards. However, for this to be fully supported, systems must be equipped with PCIe-compatible connections that operate at speeds of 64 Gbps.
However, it is expected that the next portable computers, potentially those based on the Meteor Lake architecture, could be among the pioneering systems to incorporate Thunderbolt 5. Officially, the first systems with this technology should be launched in 2024.