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Intel’s Thunderbolt 4.2 promises up to three times the capability of predecessor

Intel has shared details about its next generation of Thunderbolt, which might be another step toward a more universal port that works with several different products.

The brand recently previewed Thunderbolt 4.2, as it’s called, detailing its specifications and confirming that the port can “deliver up to three times the capability of Thunderbolt 4,” according to The Verge.

Two USB-C ports with Thunderbolt 4 support can be seen on the left-hand side of the MSI Prestige 14.
Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

The new Thunderbolt standard offers speeds up to 80 gigabits per second both ways and compatibility with existing Thunderbolt 4 cables up to one meter long, with the addition of a special mode that allows for 120Gbps speeds up and 40Gbps down when supporting several high-end monitors on a single cable.

These specs are very similar to those of the recently announced USB 4 version 2.0 standard that was unveiled by the USB Promoter Group last month, The Verge noted.

However, the new Thunderbolt standard has additional features, not only USB 4 version 2.0 specs but also support for DisplayPort 2.1 and twice faster PCIe throughput. Intel is doing its best to essentially future-proof the standard.

“Many portions of the USB4 v2 specification are optional leading to variability in implementation, Thunderbolt defines a higher bar and delivers the most complete solution,” Intel’s client computing group general manager, Jason Ziller told The Verge in an email.

Similarly, the Video Electronics Standards Association (VESA) announced its latest DisplayPort 2.1 specification earlier this week but announced its DisplayPort UHBR (Ultra-high Bit Rate) support back in March as an effort to bring standardization to the video port capabilities. With the Ultra-High Bit Rate (UHBR) certification, the cables will be labeled according to their transfer rates of “DP40” for 10 gigabits per second per lane or “DP80” for 20 gigabits per second per lane. The 40 and 80 represent the maximum bandwidth of the cables using all four lanes of the DisplayPort. Notably, many DisplayPort dongles use USB-style ports for their connectors.

Intel plans to share more details about the official branding of its new Thunderbolt standard in 2023.

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