Thursday, February 25th, 2021

Intel’s Thunderbolt 4 Doubles the Bandwidth, Available Soon

intel 8000 series thunderbolt 4 controller
In July 2020, Intel announces the Thunderbolt 4 controller 8000 series, which includes JHL8540 and JHL8340 host controllers for computer makers and JHL8440 device controller for accessory makers. Thunderbolt 4 developer kits and certification testing are available.

The state of peripheral connections is about to get quite interesting thanks to Intel’s just-announced details on the latest Thunderbolt 4 standard.

Double the bandwidth and more

Naturally, this is the next step after Thunderbolt 3. Thunderbolt 4 will inherit all the previous revision has to offer and improvements. Intel says you can expect the following from the latest Thunderbolt revision:

  • Double the bandwidth and minimum video requirements of Thunderbolt 3. Specifically, TB4 supports PCIe-based storage bandwidth of up to 3000 MB/s (32 Gbps). On top of that, it can also handle up to two 4K displays or one 8K display.
  • Four-port support in TB4 docking solutions.
  • PC charging on at least one computer port even on a thin-and-light laptop that requires less than 100 W to charge.
  • Wake-from-sleep for PC via Thunderbolt-connected keyboard or mouse.
  • Required Intel VT-d-based direct memory access (DMA) protection that helps prevent physical DMA attacks.

On top of that, the new standard uses the same USB-C-based connector with cable up to 80 inches (2 m) in length. It will also support TB3 and is compatible with USB-C devices that uses USB4 and earlier USB revisions.

Thunderbolt 4 vs Others
Thunderbolt 4 compared with other peripheral standards (click to enlarge).

First Thunderbolt 4-ready hardware

Also announced are Intel’s upcoming mobile PC processors, code-named “Tiger Lake,” — the first to integrate TB4. There are also the Thunderbolt 4 controller 8000 series and developer kits.

The controller 8000 controller series includes three chips of different purposes. The JHL8540 and JHL8340 are host controllers to be used on a computer. On the other end, the JHL8440 is a device controller for peripheral devices.

Like the case of Thunderbolt 3, Intel doesn’t charge licensing fees for vendors who want to adapt Thunderbolt 4 standard.

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Availabilty

Intel says it’ll deliver the Thunderbolt 4 chips mentioned above to PC and accessory makers later this year. As a result, you can expect computers and devices with TB4 ports to be available by year-end. Among those are special laptops from the company’s “Project Athena” program.

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3 thoughts on “Intel’s Thunderbolt 4 Doubles the Bandwidth, Available Soon”

  1. My understanding is the USB4 is ‘TB4’ insomuch as TB3 is a significant part of the USB4 architecture.

    Users of TB3 (as you likely know) need to interconnect TB3 computers for worth while peer to peer networks based on TB3 (unless it finally dawns on someone to provide a TB3 hub with 2 TB3 controllers (a la Mac Mini 2018)

    If anyone has interest, at least in Windows you can connect two TB3 machines using routing e.g. if you create a ‘ring’ of 5 machines each can talk to each other using SMB (not possible with daisy chain)

    Reply
  2. Will the USB4/TB3 architecture enable a PCIe card to provide a USB4 port in a TB3 motherboard?

    As there are no TB3 hubs, Existing TB3 motherboards could use this to connect to a USB4 hub for multiple TB3 connections (not daisy chained)

    Reply

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