Intel demos 80Gbps Thunderbolt, matching USB4 2.0 performance

Daniel Sims

Posts: 665   +27
Staff
Forward-looking: The latest iterations of Thunderbolt and USB came out of hiding this month. Both technologies have some capabilities in common as the new connection standards will double their bandwidth over their immediate predecessors. Finalized specifications are expected in the coming months.

Intel showed off the latest version of its Thunderbolt connection technology on Tuesday. It managed an 80Gbps connection, doubling the bandwidth of the company's current standard -- Thunderbolt 4 -- reaching the same output as the recently-announced USB4 Version 2.0.

Covering Intel's Technology Tour 2022, Tom's Hardware witnessed the demo at the Intel Development Center in Haifa, Israel. There, Intel presented a live video of the 80Gbps connection running dual 40Gbps lanes over a USB-C cable.

The USB Promoter Group announced the confusingly-named USB4 2.0 specification (some might confuse it for the two-decade-old USB 2.0) earlier this month. The latest USB standard features the same maximum bandwidth as the new Thunderbolt Intel showcased.

Thunderbolt 3 was the basis for USB4 Version 1.0, which is likely why both achieved the same 40Gbps bandwidth. Thunderbolt 4 maintained the same bandwidth while improving display output to dual 4K displays (DisplayPort 1.4) and security. It seems USB4 and Thunderbolt are continuing their advancement in lockstep.

Intel accidentally leaked its design goals for the latest edition of Thunderbolt last year when Intel Client Computing Group GM Gregory M. Bryant tweeted and quickly deleted photos of the company's Israel development labs. Mentions of "80G PHY Technology" in the photos suggested 80Gbps bandwidth, which Intel achieves through PAM-3 modulation (Pulse Amplitude Modulation 3-level).

This week's presentation didn't reveal too much aside from Intel's achievement of the goal it leaked last year -- not even the name of Thunderbolt 4's successor. It could be Thunderbolt 5, or perhaps a new subvariant of Thunderbolt 4. Intel didn't indicate when the new standard might reach general availability either.

Meanwhile, USB4 2.0 will be backward-compatible with its predecessors as well as DisplayPort 2.0 and PCIe 5.0. It will likely see its final standard publication before the USB Developer Days event in November. Devices that take advantage of USB4 2.0 probably won't be available until 2023.

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Nanochip

Posts: 109   +153
I think this is why USB screwed up their naming, they're using stoner culture to out-market intel. USB420 for the win, at least until Thunderbolt 6.9 comes out
Intel donated thunderbolt 3 to the usb-IF. The USB-IF is not trying to out market intel else they wouldn’t be using the same underlying tunelling technology.

Thunderbolt4 just has higher guaranteed minimums (in terms of 40 gbps speeds, display support, pcie tunelling support) compared to generic usb4 (which starts out at only 20 gbps).
 

yRaz

Posts: 4,792   +5,971
Lol, Where is the joke ? Just like where is alchemist.
You are either much younger or much older than me. A lot of people in the tech world have been making the USB4 2.0 = USB420 Joke, it's kind of a meme. 420 is a stoner thing. I made my own twist on the current USB420 meme with a thunderbolt 6.9 joke. Please don't make me explain what 69ing is
 

Nanochip

Posts: 109   +153
You are either much younger or much older than me. A lot of people in the tech world have been making the USB4 2.0 = USB420 Joke, it's kind of a meme. 420 is a stoner thing. I made my own twist on the current USB420 meme with a thunderbolt 6.9 joke. Please don't make me explain what 69ing is
We Just different tastes in what’s funny and what’s not. And that’s perfectly okay!
 

Trapped Nowhere

Posts: 125   +92
Would it be possible to get these speeds doing backups using something such as clonezilla? I don't think I'll ever reach those heights otherwise lol
 

ChrisH1

Posts: 213   +110
Thunderbolt is good; until recently I was using a laptop with an eGPU attached with a thunderbolt cable. Worked well. But, I wanted the equipment placed where I wanted it, and that meant buying a 2 meter thunderbolt cable. Turns out, not all created equal. The 'proper' Apple one, capable of supporting everything needed, is almost unique and costs over $100 aus.
 

Nanochip

Posts: 109   +153
That went so far over my head I'm not even if the picture- still smiling though
Yeah his ‘joke’ flew so far over heads that it is in low earth orbit.
Thunderbolt is good; until recently I was using a laptop with an eGPU attached with a thunderbolt cable. Worked well. But, I wanted the equipment placed where I wanted it, and that meant buying a 2 meter thunderbolt cable. Turns out, not all created equal. The 'proper' Apple one, capable of supporting everything needed, is almost unique and costs over $100 aus.
Yeah thunderbolt is good. Cables longer than 1m need to be active cables and they contain chips to enable the connection to persist over that longer distance. With older tb3 cables, that connection may only be at 20 gbps for many cables. For tb4, some long cables can maintain 40 gbps. So you may run in to compatibility issues. The shorter cables are passive and can run at 40 gbps.

Be sure that any cable you buy is rated for the full speed. And don’t ask me if a 2m active tb4 cable will run at 40 gbps if connected to tb3 hosts. I don’t know.
 

Bullwinkle M

Posts: 815   +744
If you need a USB name you can remember, just call it 4-B.......
You can label it the Forby, and we will just call it the Furby, cuz yer naming convention is a bit Fuzzy (like the toy) and it will likely add a few new Gremlins to the machine

If you ever add to the spec in the future, just call it the Furby Grande, or One Big Mess

Those are names we can remember
 
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