Intel has demonstrated a prototype of the next generation of its Thunderbolt interface. The new connection will be up to three times faster than the existing Thunderbolt 4 when it debuts next year.
The new Thunderbolt, which hasn’t yet received an official name, will deliver 80 gigabits per second (Gbps) of bandwidth in each direction. This boost will double data transfer rates between devices like SSDs, compared to Thunderbolt 4, which will be useful to handle the growing volume of data generated and transmitted.
This bandwidth can be dynamically re-balanced too – when connected to a display, which is more one-directional, data can be transmitted at up to 120 Gbps. This speed is three times faster than current tech, and allows for up to 8K resolution to be smoothly displayed at higher frame rates.
The next-gen Thunderbolt system will be compatible with previous versions of Thunderbolt, as well as previous versions of USB and DisplayPort. That includes the USB4 Version 2.0 specification, which was announced back in September and will begin to appear in devices in the next few years.
Intel also says that this new tech will work with existing passive cables up to 1 m (3.3 ft) long, thanks to a new signaling technology. As with previous iterations, Intel will be making this next-gen Thunderbolt tech device agnostic, and readily available for companies to incorporate into their products.
The company says that more details on this next-generation Thunderbolt, including its official name, as well as other features and capabilities, will be announced in 2023.
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