Thunderbolt hits 80Gbps in demo, equaling USB4 Version 2.0 speeds


Closeup of USB Type C connector and black cable being connected into Thunderbolt port

Intel is working on making its Thunderbolt technology support a throughput of 80Gbps. That would put it on par with the upcoming USB4 Version 2.0 specification and double the throughput of today’s Thunderbolt 4.

Intel showed a video of the “first test system” using a Thunderbolt connection running at 80Gbps today, Tom’s Hardware reported from the Intel Development Center in Haifa, Israel. The demo was not live, and the company didn’t provide a name or release date for the next generation of Thunderbolt, so we expect it to be a while before consumers start seeing this kind of performance in products.

The Thunderbolt connection reportedly hit 80Gbps by use of two Thunderbolt lanes, with each one running at 40Gbps. With USB-C becoming increasingly popular among gadgets and some countries considering, pushing for, or issuing USB-C mandates for electronics, it’s not surprising to hear that the demo ran over the slim connector.

That’s all we know about Intel’s 80Gbps Thunderbolt, but the USB-IF has said that USB4 Version 2.0 will double the throughput of USB4 by using a new physical layer architecture. USB4 Version 2.0’s 80Gbps operation is supposed to work over upcoming 80Gbps active USB-C cables, as well as 40Gbps passive USB-C cables that you can buy today.

USB-C technologies’ boost to 80Gbps could be a boon for users with extreme needs, bringing the potential to boost performance with things like external storage, eGPUs, and high-resolution monitors.

We’ll stay tuned for any further Thunderbolt developments, and we should learn more about how USB4 Version 2.0 operates at 80GBps in November, when the USB-IF publishes the spec.


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