Thunderbolt is Intel’s (and Apple’s) hardware interface for connecting external peripherals to a computer. Thunderbolt 1 and 2 use the Mini DisplayPort (MDP) connector, while 3 and 4 use USB-C. It was first launched as an end-user product on 24 February 2011 under the name Light Peak.
Thunderbolt combines PCIe, DisplayPort, and DC power in one cable. Various connector topologies can accommodate up to six peripherals.
Thunderbolt 4 launched last year with Intel’s 11th-generation processors, therefore Intel’s Next-Gen Thunderbolt 5 is expected. Gregory Bryant accidently teased it on Twitter, which is even more startling. On a trip to Intel’s Israel R&D laboratories, he tweeted four photos, one of which reveals Intel’s Next-Gen Thunderbolt 5 specifications.
Intel’s Next-Gen Thunderbolt 5 will double Thunderbolt 4’s transmission speeds to 80Gbps. It doubles every generation, so this isn’t shocking. Thunderbolt 4’s minimum requirements were changed, not its maximum speeds.
More than only the 80Gbps speed will harm consumers. Intel’s Next-Gen Thunderbolt 5 should support the USB-C ecosystem, states the sign. It will still employ a USB Type-C port (unlike Thunderbolt and Thunderbolt 2) and should be backward-compatible with prior USB and Thunderbolt standards.
The sign says it’ll employ PAM-3. PAM is sending ones and zeros. -1, 0 and 1 are PAM-3 values. Frequency thresholds are defined, and a one is at the top, a zero in the middle, and a negative one at the bottom. Video explanation:
In February 2011, Apple said the port was Mini DisplayPort, not USB. Thunderbolt controllers multiplex data from existing DP systems with PCIe port data onto a single wire. Older DP 1.1a displays must be at the end of a Thunderbolt chain, whereas native displays can be anywhere. Thunderbolt devices are chainable. Thunderbolt is similar to ACCESS.bus, which used the display connector for a low-speed bus.
Apple supports up to six daisy-chained peripherals per Thunderbolt port, and the display should come last if it doesn’t support it.
In February 2011, Apple debuted their new range of MacBook Pro notebooks and named the new I/O technology Thunderbolt.
Apple introduced Thunderbolt-equipped iMacs in May 2011.
The Thunderbolt port on the new Macs is in the same area as the MDP connector and has the same dimensions and pinout. On Thunderbolt-equipped Macs, the port has a symbol.
DisplayPort and Thunderbolt share Apple’s MDP connection. iMacs’ Target Display mode requires a Thunderbolt cable to accept video-in from another Thunderbolt-capable machine. DP monitors must be the last (or only) Thunderbolt device.
Intel will release a developer kit in the second quarter of 2011, and hardware-development equipment manufacturers will add Thunderbolt support.
Sony announced their Vaio Z21 range of notebooks with a “Power Media Dock” that employs optical Thunderbolt (Light Peak) to connect to an external graphics card using a hybrid connector that operates like USB but also has the optical interconnect required for Thunderbolt.
In June 2013, Intel revealed that “Thunderbolt 2,” based on the “Falcon Ridge” controller (running at 20 Gbit/s), began production. 20 Gbit/s is attainable by combining two 10 Gbit/s channels, which does not change the maximum bandwidth but makes it more versatile. Apple unveiled Thunderbolt 2 at WWDC in June 2013 for the upcoming Mac Pro generation. Thunderbolt 2 debuted on the 22 October 2013 MacBook Pro.
Thunderbolt 1 and 2 have the same physical bandwidth, therefore their cables are interoperable. It offers logical channel aggregation, combining two 10 Gbit/s channels into a single 20 Gbit/s channel.
Intel says Thunderbolt 2 can concurrently transfer and show 4K video.
Thunderbolt 2 supports DisplayPort 1.2, allowing video transmission to a single 4K or dual QHD monitors. Thunderbolt 2 cables and connections work with Thunderbolt 1.
The first consumer Thunderbolt 2 device was Asus’s Z87-Deluxe/Quad motherboard, introduced on 19 August 2013, and Apple’s late 2013 Retina MacBook Pro was released on 22 October 2013.
Intel developed Thunderbolt 3. It uses USB-C connectors and “active” cables for cable lengths over 0.5 metres (1.5 feet). Thunderbolt 3 bandwidth to 40 Gbit/s (5 GB/s) from Thunderbolt 2. It offers up to 4 PCI Express 3.0 (32.4 Gbit/s) lanes for general-purpose data transfer and 8 DisplayPort HBR2 lanes for video, but the maximum total data throughput is 40 Gbit/s. Prioritize video data over PCIe.
Intel’s Thunderbolt 3 controller (Alpine Ridge, or the new Titan Ridge) halves power usage and drives two external 4K displays at 60 Hz (or a single 4K display at 120 Hz, or a 5K display at 60 Hz when utilising Apple’s implementation for the late-2016 MacBook Pros). It supports PCIe 3.0 and DisplayPort 1.2. (allowing for 4K resolutions at 60 Hz). Thunderbolt 3 can deliver 15 watts of power through copper lines but not optical cables. Using USB-C on copper wires, the ports may source or sink up to 100 watts of electricity. Some devices don’t need a separate power supply. Thunderbolt 3 is backwards compatible by using adapters or transitional cords.
The final Thunderbolt 4 specification was issued in July 2020. Thunderbolt 4 supports USB4 protocol and data rates, requires 32 Gbit/s for PCIe link bandwidth, supports dual 4K monitors (DisplayPort 1.4), and uses Intel VT-d to prevent physical DMA assaults.
TB4 now supports alternate mode USB hubs, not only daisy chaining. These hubs work with Thunderbolt 3 devices and hosts (Titan Ridge only, with Alpine Ridge the additional downstream ports get downgraded to USB3).
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