CES 2020: Intel Teases Thunderbolt 4, Could Be Used in Future Macs

Intel chipset

At its CES 2020 keynote, Intel confirmed the existence of Thunderbolt 4 – a successor to the hugely popular Thunderbolt 3 connectivity bridge. Macs have always been on the frontline to use Thunderbolt ports, the future notebooks from Apple may be among the first to offer Thunderbolt 4 ports.

Intel’s keynote during CES 2020 was mainly about ‘Tiger Lake’ systems – the next-generation platform for the brand’s future CPUs and a successor to Ice Lake CPUs. While revealing the capabilities of the upcoming platform, Intel’s CEO Gregory Bryant revealed that it will have “4x the throughput of USB 3 with the new integrated Thunderbolt 4,” spilling the beans on the upcoming Thunderbolt 4 technology. Unfortunately, that is all the brand has unveiled about Thunderbolt 4 at the moment.

Later, Intel confirmed to a few media houses that it was referring to USB 3.2 Gen 2 when it said “4x the throughput of USB 3.” As you might know, the USB 3.2 Gen 2 has a throughput of 10Gbps. So, according to Intel’s announcement, the Thunderbolt 4 will have 4x 10Gbps bandwidth. That’s a staggering 40Gbps speed. Oh wait, isn’t that the same throughput as the Thunderbolt 3? Yes, it is. So, isn’t Thunderbolt 4 supposed to be faster? Well, that is why it is all confusing at the moment.

It is possible that Thunderbolt 4 might bring other technological advancements rather than just offering higher data transfer speeds than its predecessor. Newer capabilities could include allowing for a higher rate of power supply or may be working over additional types of USB ports. Hopefully, we will know more about it as the launch of Tiger Lake CPUs nears, which isn’t expected to happen anytime soon.

Our Take

The Thunderbolt 3 connection, which is used in all new MacBooks, iMacs, and the Mac Pro with USB Type-C ports, already has more bandwidth than anyone would ever need. While Thunderbolt 4 might offer additional features, we don’t think it is worth waiting for. What do you expect Thunderbolt 4 to offer? Do let us know in the comments below.