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Intel unveiled Thunderbolt 5, the latest iteration of its a standard aimed at enabling super-fast connectivity.
With Thunderbolt 5, Intel promises a significant leap in connectivity speed and bandwidth, delivering enhanced performance for computer users.
The unveiling of a prototype laptop and dock accompanied the announcement, providing a glimpse into the future of Thunderbolt technology.
“Thunderbolt 5 will provide industry-leading performance and capability for connecting computers to monitors, docks, storage and more. Intel is excited to continue our tradition of leadership for wired connectivity solutions,” said Jason Ziller, the general manager of the Client Connectivity Division at Intel, said in a statement. “Thunderbolt is now the mainstream port for connectivity on mobile PCs, and delivering the next generation of performance with Thunderbolt 5 will provide even more capability for the most demanding users.”
Up to 3X speeds
Thunderbolt 5 will offer an impressive 80 gigabits per second (Gbps) of bi-directional bandwidth, enabling lightning-fast data transfer and connectivity. Additionally, with the introduction of Bandwidth Boost, Thunderbolt 5 will reach up to 120 Gbps, ensuring an unparalleled display experience for users. These advancements represent two to three times more bandwidth than Thunderbolt 4. And it can deliver up to 240 watts of power.
Intel believes it could be a game changer for anyone plugging something into a computer.
Why it matters
With Thunderbolt 5, you’ll be able to do things like dock a laptop to a monitor with at least twice the speed of connectivity versus prior generations. Your SSDs with the Thunderbolt 5 ports will work faster. You can connect at three times more bandwidth for video and six times more bandwidth for data.
“This will will deliver the best display experience,” said Ziller in a press briefing. “And then the more power we talked about the 240 watts charging and of course, it will continue to do 15 watts to devices just like the earlier versions of Thunderbolt. It adds up to being the best docking solution going forward.”
Content creators, gamers, and professionals will particularly benefit from Thunderbolt 5’s high bandwidth capabilities. As the demand for high-resolution displays and low-latency visuals continues to rise, Thunderbolt 5 is poised to meet these growing needs. With Thunderbolt 5, users can expect seamless handling of large video and data files, leading to an enhanced visual experience and improved productivity.
“This is a phenomenal amount of a performance of bandwidth from a computer,” with 50% more than DisplayPort’s best 2.1 options, Ziller said. “It truly will be the best display experience on a single connector.”
If you hook up multiple displays together with different resolutions, it will efficiently allocate the bandwidth that is needed to run each display.
“Today’s technology doesn’t do that quite as effectively,” Ziller said. “Sometimes you over allocate bandwidth because you’re not sure what the display really needs. And so it’s not as efficient.”
Thunderbolt 5 is built on industry standards, including USB4 V2, ensuring compatibility with previous Thunderbolt and USB versions. This compatibility allows users to seamlessly transition to Thunderbolt 5 while preserving connectivity with their existing devices.
The announcement of Thunderbolt 5 has garnered the support of industry leaders, with Microsoft expressing its excitement to collaborate closely with Intel. Since it is a standard, it will be available on a royalty free basis.
“Microsoft is excited to closely collaborate with Intel to bring the latest USB4 standard to Windows customers. Thunderbolt 5 is fully USB 80Gbps standard compliant to support the next generation of high-performance displays, storage and connectivity,” said Ian LeGrow, corporate vice president of Core OS product management at Microsoft.
Thunderbolt products have become mainstream in the PC marketplace, with leading PC accessory vendors worldwide adopting the standard to reach hundreds of millions of PC users active today. Thunderbolt 5 will build on this extensive base and continue to deliver on the vision of one USB-C port and cable that can do it all – simplifying the PC experience for users around the globe while still providing the highest quality and performance possible.
As the bandwidth requirements of users continue to escalate, Thunderbolt 5 aims to fulfill those needs, delivering a future-proof solution that ensures uncompromised performance and immersive experiences for years to come. Thunderbolt 4 connectors can transfer data four times faster than USB-C.
Computers and accessories based on Intel’s Thunderbolt 5 controller, code-named Barlow Ridge, are expected to be available starting in 2024. And dammit, we’re all going to have to get new chargers and wires and connecting devices.
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