Unveiling Thunderbolt 4: A Potential Revolution in the Computing Industry

Quick Read

  • Thunderbolt 4 represents the newest protocol in technology standards and is expected to significantly influence the laptop and desktop computer markets.
  • Thunderbolt 4 integrates the capabilities of Thunderbolt and USB (including both the connector type and the data transfer protocol) more closely than ever.
  • The peak bandwidth remains unchanged from Thunderbolt 3, at 40Gbps. However, the 40Gbps rate is now the minimum requirement.
  • Every Thunderbolt 4 port is required to support powering two 4K displays at the same time.
  • Thunderbolt 4 devices are compatible with Thunderbolt 3 ports, although the performance may not reach the same level as with a complete Thunderbolt 4-compliant setup of ports, cables, and peripherals.
  • Intel’s Tiger Lake processors’ introduction will enable Thunderbolt 4 compatibility for laptops.

Understanding Thunderbolt 4

Technology standards are progressing quickly. USB, DisplayPort, and WiFi are all constantly being updated with new capabilities and version numbers. The latest protocol available to consumers is Thunderbolt 4, which is expected to have a substantial effect on the laptop and desktop computer industries.

An Introduction to Thunderbolt Fundamentals

Thunderbolt, introduced by Intel and Apple in 2011, is a hardware interface designed to connect two devices. It integrates various other standards, including PCI Express (PCIe), DisplayPort, and uses USB-C for its end connector. The frequent development of Thunderbolt alongside USB technologies, like USB 3.0, often leads to confusion. The complexity is further heightened with Thunderbolt 3 also adopting USB-C connections.

USB-C and Thunderbolt 3

Not every USB-C port is a Thunderbolt 3 port, but every Thunderbolt 3 port supports USB-C. Although any USB-C device can be used with a Thunderbolt 3 port, not all Thunderbolt 3 devices are compatible with USB-C ports that do not have Thunderbolt 3 features. Viewed in terms of connectors, Thunderbolt 3 can be considered an upgraded version of USB-C.

The Transition to Thunderbolt 4

Thunderbolt 4 integrates Thunderbolt and USB (both the connector type and the transfer protocol) more seamlessly than ever. A key advancement in Thunderbolt 4 is the inclusion of USB 4 standards—the peak bandwidth continues to be 40Gbps, just like in Thunderbolt 3. However, some minimum requirements have been updated, and these must be met to qualify for the Thunderbolt 4 certification.


The newest advancement in technology standards, Thunderbolt 4, is poised to greatly influence the laptop and desktop computer industry. Enhancing prior iterations, Thunderbolt 4 offers increased compatibility and elevated performance benchmarks. Therefore, it’s a development worth monitoring, especially for individuals keen on technological progress in the computing sector.


Q: Could you explain what Thunderbolt 4 is?
Thunderbolt 4 represents the most recent advancement in technology standards, poised to greatly influence the laptop and desktop computer industry.

Q: In what ways does Thunderbolt 4 enhance or surpass earlier versions?
Thunderbolt 4 merges Thunderbolt and USB (both in terms of connector type and transfer protocol) more closely than before, offering enhanced integration and compatibility.

Q: What is the peak bandwidth of Thunderbolt 4?
The maximum bandwidth stays consistent at 40Gbps, as seen in Thunderbolt 3. However, under Thunderbolt 4, this has become a mandatory minimum.

Q: When is Thunderbolt 4 compatibility expected to be available on laptops?
Intel’s Tiger Lake processors will soon provide laptops with Thunderbolt 4 compatibility, with these devices anticipated to be available on the market shortly.

Q: Are Thunderbolt 4 ports compatible with Thunderbolt 3 ports?
Sure, here’s the reworded text:

Q: Will Thunderbolt 4 products function with Thunderbolt 3 ports?

A: Yes, Thunderbolt 4 products will operate when connected to Thunderbolt 3 ports, but the performance might not match that of a complete Thunderbolt 4 setup including ports, cables, and devices.

Source: gizmodo.com