Wednesday, July 8th 2020

Intel Announces Thunderbolt 4: Universal Cable Connectivity for Everyone

Today, Intel revealed new details about Thunderbolt 4, the next generation of its universal cable connectivity solution, delivering increased minimum performance requirements, expanded capabilities and USB4 specification compliance. For the first time, Thunderbolt 4 will offer docks with up to four Thunderbolt ports and universal cables up to 2 meters in length. Intel's upcoming mobile PC processors, code-named "Tiger Lake," will be the first to integrate Thunderbolt 4. Intel also announced the Thunderbolt 4 controller 8000 series, compatible with the hundreds of millions of Thunderbolt 3 PCs and accessories already available. Thunderbolt 4 developer kits and certification testing are now available.

"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," said Jason Ziller, Intel general manager of the Client Connectivity Division.
Thunderbolt products deliver a consistent, industry-leading set of capabilities for connecting computers to data, video and power with the simplicity of just one USB Type-C port. Connect to powerful Thunderbolt docks, displays, fast storage or any USB accessory for a clutter-free workspace. To ensure a consistent best-in-class experience and ease of use across a wide range of product types and manufacturers, Intel works closely with its ecosystem of computer, accessory and cable partners to employ mandatory certification for all Thunderbolt products.

"We expect Thunderbolt 4 products to be an inflection point for accessory makers who depend on PCs and Macs to offer an industry-leading set of product capabilities for a consistent user experience. The advancements in Thunderbolt 4 will help Kensington redefine the modern workspace of the future," said Ben Thacker, vice president and general manager at Kensington.

"The new capabilities and minimum requirements of Thunderbolt 4 will provide great experiences and increased productivity that our IT customers and end users require," said Jerry Paradise, vice president, Commercial Portfolio, Lenovo PC & Smart Devices. "Lenovo is excited to work with Intel to expand our support of Thunderbolt with the introduction of Thunderbolt 4 PCs and the expanding portfolio of Thunderbolt accessories."

Thunderbolt 4 builds on the innovation of Thunderbolt 3 for a truly universal cable connectivity experience. Thunderbolt 4 always delivers 40 Gbps speeds and data, video and power over a single connection. It is the most comprehensive Thunderbolt specification yet with compliance across the broadest set of industry-standard specifications - including USB4, DisplayPort and PCI Express (PCIe) - and is fully compatible with prior generations of Thunderbolt and USB products. Thunderbolt 4 certification requirements 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 MB/s.
  • 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.
Later this year, Intel expects to deliver the new Thunderbolt 4 controller 8000 series, including:
  • JHL8540 and JHL8340 host controllers for computer makers.
  • JHL8440 device controller for accessory makers.
The first computers and accessories with Thunderbolt 4 ports are also expected to be available this year, including laptops based on Intel's innovation program code-named "Project Athena."
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43 Comments on Intel Announces Thunderbolt 4: Universal Cable Connectivity for Everyone

#1
Berfs1
YES I AM NOT LEFT OUT GOOD VERY GOOD STUFF
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#2
Steevo
Sweet, with this Intel standard people can get ring0 or root access faster than ever before to your information.
Posted on Reply
#3
bonehead123
btarunr
helping to advance computing experiences and delivering on the promise of USB-C with simplicity, performance and reliability
Soooo... they can push this connectivity method forward no problem, but they can't be bothered with implementing pcie-4 on their cpu's..whazzzupwitdat ???

Yea I know they collect licensing fees from every mfgr of every TB device & cable sold, but just sayin :eek:
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#4
Assimilator
Wake your computer from sleep by touching the keyboard or mouse when connected to a Thunderbolt dock.
NO
GOD
WHY
NO

I'll bet this won't be able to be disabled, just like you can't disable it for Bluetooth devices in Windows 10. I'd love to know which genius at MS and/or Intel decided that a mouse fart anywhere near your peripherals should cause your computer to wake itself up, so I can find them and beat them into a bloody pulp.

If only there was some other way to wake a computer from sleep. Say, a dedicated button. We could call it the power button! LIKE THE ONE THAT'S BEEN ON EVERY GOD DAMN COMPUTER SINCE THE DAWN OF TIME.
Posted on Reply
#5
trparky
Assimilator
I'll bet this won't be able to be disabled, just like you can't disable it for Bluetooth devices in Windows 10. I'd love to know which genius at MS and/or Intel decided that a mouse fart anywhere near your peripherals should cause your computer to wake itself up, so I can find them and beat them into a bloody pulp.

If only there was some other way to wake a computer from sleep. Say, a dedicated button. We could call it the power button! LIKE THE ONE THAT'S BEEN ON EVERY GOD DAMN COMPUTER SINCE THE DAWN OF TIME.
That's why I turn my cordless Logitech mouse off at night when I put my system to sleep.
Posted on Reply
#6
TheLostSwede
Clearly very easy to figure out what is what :kookoo:
I've also never seen most of those USB logos.
Let's see if Intel can truly pull off what they promise here.
Steevo
Sweet, with this Intel standard people can get ring0 or root access faster than ever before to your information.
Posted on Reply
#7
windwhirl
Steevo
Sweet, with this Intel standard people can get ring0 or root access faster than ever before to your information.
It's nice to see that I wasn't the only one that saw this and instantly got DMA flashbacks :laugh:
Assimilator
I'll bet this won't be able to be disabled, just like you can't disable it for Bluetooth devices in Windows 10. I'd love to know which genius at MS and/or Intel decided that a mouse fart anywhere near your peripherals should cause your computer to wake itself up, so I can find them and beat them into a bloody pulp.
I don't know about the mouse fart :laugh:, but I thought waking a PC from sleep with the keyboard has been a normal thing for years if not decades?

I could go even further and say that the "starting up the computer with the keyboard" feature has been around since at least 1997? HP Vectra PCs of that time already had that functionality, and you can still find it in UEFI today (I have that enabled)...

Am I missing something??
TheLostSwede
Clearly very easy to figure out what is what :kookoo:


Honestly, I didn't even know about the existence of half of those :roll:
Posted on Reply
#8
Regenweald
trparky
That's why I turn my cordless Logitech mouse off at night when I put my system to sleep.
I'm from the good old days when sleep=bad, so I still always shut down :twitch:
Posted on Reply
#9
trparky
Regenweald
I'm from the good old days when sleep=bad, so I still always shut down :twitch:
Well when I want to start again in the morning all I have to do is tap the keyboard and my system wakes up.
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#11
Easo
Of all the things Intel does wrong I fail to see anything wrong with TB4.
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#12
windwhirl
Easo
Of all the things Intel does wrong I fail to see anything wrong with TB4.
If nothing else, I just want all the ports to be unified and for things to be certified. Sure, the latter will up the cost, but I think it would be acceptable.
Posted on Reply
#13
zlobby
Now more secure than ever!

LOL, JK! As we ever cared!
Posted on Reply
#14
Easo
zlobby
Now more secure than ever!

LOL, JK! As we ever cared!
If we look at the usual comments in internet one could almost think that security is the only thing that matters :D
Posted on Reply
#15
john_
Required Intel VT-d-based direct memory access (DMA) protection that helps prevent physical DMA attacks.
Is this an Intel specific feature?
Posted on Reply
#16
windwhirl
john_
Is this an Intel specific feature?
AMD has their own equivalent, known as AMD-Vi, with nearly any desktop/server CPU from the Phenom II days supporting it.

Intel on the other hand has selectively disabled this feature in some processors, although most of them have been rather low-end, with a few strange exceptions (like the Core i7-4770K, while the non K variant does support VT-d)
Posted on Reply
#17
john_
windwhirl
AMD has their own equivalent, known as AMD-Vi, with nearly any desktop/server CPU from the Phenom II days supporting it.

Intel on the other hand has selectively disabled this feature in some processors, although most of them have been rather low-end, with a few strange exceptions (like the Core i7-4770K, while the non K variant does support VT-d)
So, Intel can declare AMD's feature as incompatible and limit Thunderbold 4 to Intel only platform. Great.
Posted on Reply
#18
windwhirl
Eh, to be fair, Thunderbolt is unlikely to gain a lot of traction. It's interesting for sure, but USB4 is more than enough for most people. Besides, the thing about Intel VT-d and AMD-Vi is that they both require some extra work from the motherboard maker, apparently. It's not a feature that depends only on the CPU.
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#19
Darmok N Jalad
I’m curious what the adoption level of Thunderbolt is after all these years (and standard/port/cable changes). Apple was one of the first to seriously adopt it, and with their move to ARM, will they continue supporting it? It’s a royalty free standard now, but will they put the effort into adding it into their custom SOCs, especially since they appear to be moving away from non-Apple GPUs, too. It will be telling if they drop support as they move away from Intel.
Posted on Reply
#20
FordGT90Concept
"I go fast!1!11!1!"
*sigh* If they can't put 10 ports on the motherboard for a few bucks, then USB is not going anywhere. I'm using 8 USB ports right now on the rear of my machine, none of them need more than USB2 bandwidth.

Thunderbolt tries to do more with less, which means you have more capability when you don't even need it and the associated costs that go along with it. Those costs...only Apple is willing to pay.

There needs to be a paradigm shift and it doesn't look like Thunderbolt 4 has it.
Posted on Reply
#21
windwhirl
Darmok N Jalad
I’m curious what the adoption level of Thunderbolt is after all these years (and standard/port/cable changes). Apple was one of the first to seriously adopt it, and with their move to ARM, will they continue supporting it? It’s a royalty free standard now, but will they put the effort into adding it into their custom SOCs, especially since they appear to be moving away from non-Apple GPUs, too. It will be telling if they drop support as they move away from Intel.
Honestly, I'm not sure if Thunderbolt as a whole is royalty-free or if it is only the case for TB3.

According to this:
www.macrumors.com/2020/06/22/apple-silicon-transition-program/
Thunderbolt 3 is not supported in the Developer Transition Kit. Perhaps it doesn't matter as much for this instance, but it would be strange, since Apple has been promoting TB for some time (they co-designed it, after all).

And rumor has it that the iPhone is going portless after the iPhone 12...
www.macrumors.com/2020/05/26/leaker-iphone-12-keeps-lightning-portless-2021/
FordGT90Concept
*sigh* If they can't put 10 ports on the motherboard for a few bucks, then USB is not going anywhere. I'm using 8 USB ports right now on the rear of my machine, none of them need more than USB2 bandwidth.

Thunderbolt tries to do more with less, which means you have more capability when you don't even need it and the associated costs that go along with it. Those costs...only Apple is willing to pay.

There needs to be a paradigm shift and it doesn't look like Thunderbolt 4 has it.
Sadly, I agree. As much as I would love for things (cables, devices, etc.) to be certified, that carries a cost that not everyone is willing to pay.
Posted on Reply
#22
AnarchoPrimitiv
Why is nobody discussing the fact that Thunderbolt 4 doesn't increase bandwidth at all? I was seriously expecting Thunderbolt 4 to use a PCIe 4.0x4/3.0x8 link and deliver 64Gbps/80Gbps...based on how every single past generation doubled bandwidth, why isn't this one? I was expecting TB4 to be able to finally run eGPUs with zero bottleneck.... So what's the point of TB4?
Posted on Reply
#23
zlobby
Easo
If we look at the usual comments in internet one could almost think that security is the only thing that matters :D
Isn't?
john_
Is this an Intel specific feature?
Fortunately, yes!
Posted on Reply
#24
FordGT90Concept
"I go fast!1!11!1!"
AnarchoPrimitiv
Why is nobody discussing the fact that Thunderbolt 4 doesn't increase bandwidth at all? I was seriously expecting Thunderbolt 4 to use a PCIe 4.0x4/3.0x8 link and deliver 64Gbps/80Gbps...based on how every single past generation doubled bandwidth, why isn't this one? I was expecting TB4 to be able to finally run eGPUs with zero bottleneck.... So what's the point of TB4?
Because greater than 40 Gb/s has huge costs and questionable benefit. Even DP2.0, which was supposed to reach 80 Gb/s has been...delayed. Costs soar even when there's demand for it. Ends up being cheaper and more sensical to use two cables of the existing standard than try to cram all that data into one cable.
Posted on Reply
#25
windwhirl
AnarchoPrimitiv
Why is nobody discussing the fact that Thunderbolt 4 doesn't increase bandwidth at all? I was seriously expecting Thunderbolt 4 to use a PCIe 4.0x4/3.0x8 link and deliver 64Gbps/80Gbps...based on how every single past generation doubled bandwidth, why isn't this one? I was expecting TB4 to be able to finally run eGPUs with zero bottleneck.... So what's the point of TB4?
Frankly, it looks to me that TB4 comes to fix or mitigate a bunch of potential issues. For example, a Thunderbolt 4 cable (essentially a USB Type-C cable) can replace any other Type C cables. All TB4 cables must be capable of delivering everything the TB4 specification offers. Intel VT-d is now required too, in an effort to cut down security vulnerabilities based on DMA attacks.
zlobby
Isn't?
Well, security is always important, but a balance must be found between performance/features and security. It doesn't matter much how secure a system is, if you can't get your work done in time or at all.
zlobby
Fortunately, yes!
AMD has their own thing for this, but I'm not sure how it's gonna work with TB4, if at all. Intel wasn't certifying any non-Intel systems for Thunderbolt until a few months ago...
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