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.

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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