Intel officially reveals Thunderbolt 5 specifications

Last year, Intel showcased the next generation of Thunderbolt technology at a technology event in Israel. Subsequently, it was confirmed to be compatible with the USB4 2.0 specification and officially named Thunderbolt 5. The company has now unveiled detailed technical specifications, including an increased data transfer rate of up to 80Gbps. For display output applications, it can achieve asymmetric transfer speeds up to 120Gbps.

According to Intel, compared to the USB4 2.0 specification, which offers a wide array of optional features catering to different product needs, Thunderbolt has consistently been developed with the most comprehensive specifications. Thus, Thunderbolt 5 is crafted in line with the full version of the USB4 2.0 specification. Not only can it provide asymmetric transfer speeds up to 120Gbps, but it also boasts a bandwidth three times greater than Thunderbolt 4, with power delivery reaching up to 240W.

The design of Thunderbolt 5 continues Intel’s vision of using a single cable to meet data transfer, display output, and high-power supply needs. This is particularly relevant as more and more creators prefer to connect their laptops to external graphics cards and additional monitors. Moreover, the trend of gamers connecting their gaming laptops to external screens further emphasizes the advantages of a simplified Thunderbolt connection.

In terms of specifications, Thunderbolt 5, built on the USB4 2.0 standard, doubles the bandwidth for bidirectional transfers. In asymmetric transfer mode, it triples the unidirectional bandwidth, reaching speeds up to 120Gbps. Additionally, it doubles the PCIe data throughput, allowing users to benefit from faster data transfer speeds when using external storage devices or graphics card products.

Beyond its compatibility with the USB4 2.0 specification, Thunderbolt 5 also supports DisplayPort 2.1 and PCIe Gen 4 transfer standards. This ensures it can connect to a wide variety of peripherals, including external monitors, graphics cards, storage devices, and hubs. It even facilitates connections and data transfers between PCs.

Furthermore, Intel anticipates that with the advent of Thunderbolt 5 technical specifications, the scope of data transfer applications in devices will be elevated. As the demand for artificial intelligence technology that requires massive data processing increases, Thunderbolt 5 is expected to expedite the pace of such technological advancements. Specifically, for cables shorter than one meter, Intel touts an enhancement in transmission efficiency using PAM-3 signal encoding within existing circuit board designs and USB-C connectors.

PCs and peripherals incorporating Thunderbolt 5 ports will be progressively released in 2024. For easy user identification, the branding on cables will retain previous designs and will prominently feature the number “5”.