A USB Type-C cable disconnected from a port on a laptop.

The Thunderbolt connector has been a life-changer ever since it began to popularize. USB4 made Thunderbolt essential to the specification, as Intel donated the Thunderbolt 3 standard to the USB-IF. Intel has kept developing it, though, and it has now teased the next generation of the standard.

Intel showed off a preview of the “next generation of Thunderbolt,” which doesn’t have a name yet — it could launch as Thunderbolt 5, as a minor sub-version of Thunderbolt 4, or go with another name entirely. The company says the future spec will be three times as capable as Thunderbolt 4 currently is.

Looking at the specs, the new Thunderbolt will be able to transfer up to 80 Gbps both ways. It will also support DisplayPort 2.1, faster PCI Express throughput, and it will come with a special mode that lets you transfer 120Gbps up and 40Gbps down. It will also be compatible with existing Thunderbolt 4 cables.

All of that is present in the latest USB4 version 2.0 spec, which was already known to be twice as fast as Thunderbolt 4, so really, the new Thunderbolt is just adhering to those specifications rather than being its own thing, as it was before.

Intel knows that, but it also knows USB can be confusing — you can get a device that’s equipped with a USB port capable of all the things the new Thunderbolt is capable of, but they’re optional specs, so you’ll need to do some digging to find if your device is equipped with the specific USB spec you want. Thunderbolt, though? Pretty straightforward. Just buy a new device equipped with the latest version of Thunderbolt, and you’re done. In that regard, Thunderbolt now serves as a sort of certification to ensure you’re getting the very best out of your USB port.

Intel will provide the proper branding for this new generation of Thunderbolt, and availability info, next year.

Source: The Verge

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Arol is a freelance news writer at How-To Geek. He's a Pharmacy student, but more importantly, an enthusiast who nerds out about everything tech-related, most notably PCs, smartphones, and other gadgets. He has also written for Android Police, MakeUseOf, and XDA Developers.
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