Introducing Thunderbolt 4: Universal Cable Connectivity for Everyone


intel 8000 series thunderbolt 4 controller 1
In July 2020, Intel announces the Thunderbolt 4 controller 8000 series, which includes JHL8540 and JHL8340 host controllers for computer makers and JHL8440 device controller for accessory makers. Thunderbolt 4 developer kits and certification testing are available. (Credit: Intel Corporation)
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What’s New: Today, Intel revealed new details about Thunderbolt™ 4, the next generation of its universal cable connectivity solution, delivering increased minimum performance requirements, expanded capabilities and USB4 specification compliance. For the first time, Thunderbolt 4 will offer docks with up to four Thunderbolt ports and universal cables up to 2 meters in length. Intel’s upcoming mobile PC processors, code-named “Tiger Lake,” will be the first to integrate Thunderbolt 4. Intel also announced the Thunderbolt 4 controller 8000 series, compatible with the hundreds of millions of Thunderbolt 3 PCs and accessories already available. Thunderbolt 4 developer kits and certification testing are now available.

“Thunderbolt provides consumers with a leading connectivity standard across a range of devices, helping to advance computing experiences and delivering on the promise of USB-C with simplicity, performance and reliability. The arrival of Thunderbolt 4 underscores how Intel is advancing the PC ecosystem toward truly universal connectivity solutions.”
–Jason Ziller, Intel general manager of the Client Connectivity Division

Why It Matters: Thunderbolt products deliver a consistent, industry-leading set of capabilities for connecting computers to data, video and power with the simplicity of just one USB Type-C port. Connect to powerful Thunderbolt docks, displays, fast storage or any USB accessory for a clutter-free workspace. To ensure a consistent best-in-class1 experience and ease of use across a wide range of product types and manufacturers, Intel works closely with its ecosystem of computer, accessory and cable partners to employ mandatory certification for all Thunderbolt products.

“We expect Thunderbolt 4 products to be an inflection point for accessory makers who depend on PCs and Macs to offer an industry-leading set of product capabilities for a consistent user experience. The advancements in Thunderbolt 4 will help Kensington redefine the modern workspace of the future,” said Ben Thacker, vice president and general manager at Kensington.

“The new capabilities and minimum requirements of Thunderbolt 4 will provide great experiences and increased productivity that our IT customers and end users require,” said Jerry Paradise, vice president, Commercial Portfolio, Lenovo PC & Smart Devices. “Lenovo is excited to work with Intel to expand our support of Thunderbolt with the introduction of Thunderbolt 4 PCs and the expanding portfolio of Thunderbolt accessories.”

What It Delivers: Thunderbolt 4 builds on the innovation of Thunderbolt 3 for a truly universal cable connectivity experience. Thunderbolt 4 always delivers 40 Gbps speeds and data, video and power over a single connection. It is the most comprehensive Thunderbolt specification yet with compliance across the broadest set of industry-standard specifications – including USB4, DisplayPort and PCI Express (PCIe) – and is fully compatible with prior generations of Thunderbolt and USB products. Thunderbolt 4 certification requirements include:

  • Double the minimum video and data requirements of Thunderbolt 3.
    • Video: Support for two 4K displays or one 8K display.
    • Data: PCIe at 32 Gbps for storage speeds up to 3,000 MBps.
  • Support for docks with up to four Thunderbolt 4 ports.
  • PC charging on at least one computer port2.
  • Wake your computer from sleep by touching the keyboard or mouse when connected to a Thunderbolt dock.
  • Required Intel VT-d-based direct memory access (DMA) protection that helps prevent physical DMA attacks. (Read more in the Thunderbolt Security Brief.)

thunderbolt4 comparison chart
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When It Is Available: Later this year, Intel expects to deliver the new Thunderbolt 4 controller 8000 series, including:

  • JHL8540 and JHL8340 host controllers for computer makers.
  • JHL8440 device controller for accessory makers.

The first computers and accessories with Thunderbolt 4 ports are also expected to be available this year, including laptops based on Intel’s innovation program code-named “Project Athena.”

More ContextIntel Takes Steps to Enable Thunderbolt 3 Everywhere, Releases Protocol | Thunderbolt 4 Press DeckThunderbolt Security Brief | Video: Thunderbolt 4

The Small Print:

Intel technologies may require enabled hardware, software or service activation. Your costs and results may vary.

Performance results are based on testing as of dates shown in configuration and may not reflect all publicly available security updates. See configuration disclosure for details. No product or component can be absolutely secure.

Software and workloads used in performance tests may have been optimized for performance only on Intel microprocessors. Performance tests, such as SYSmark and MobileMark, are measured using specific computer systems, components, software, operations and functions. Any change to any of those factors may cause the results to vary. You should consult other information and performance tests to assist you in fully evaluating your contemplated purchases, including the performance of that product when combined with other products. For more complete information visit www.intel.com/benchmarks.

1As compared to other PC I/O connection technologies including eSATA, USB, and IEEE 1394 Firewire. Performance will vary depending on the specific hardware and software used. Must use a Thunderbolt-enabled device.

2For thin-and-light laptops that require less than 100 watts to charge.



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