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Thunderbolt 5 – Everything we know about the connectivity standard

Here is everything we can tell you about Thunderbolt 5, Intel’s next-generation connectivity standard.

Just last year Intel released Thunderbolt 4, a connectivity solution that allows users to transfer data, output a display and charge a device all from the same USB-C port.

And despite the fact Thunderbolt 4 hasn’t been with us long, it seems Intel is already working on the next version as rumours have emerged suggesting it’s already in testing.

While we don’t have a lot of conclusive information right now, Intel has been dropping hints and rumours are speculating about the new connectivity standard. Read on to find out everything we know about Thunderbolt 5 so far.

What is Thunderbolt?

Thunderbolt was developed by Intel as a hardware interface that would allow users to better connect peripherals to their PCs. The Thunderbolt 3 introduced the USB-C type port, moving away from the Mini DisplayPort connector that was used originally.

Thunderbolt helps to enable features like plug-and-play external GPUs and is essentially an upgraded cable connection that can power your devices.

Since Intel developed it, it was usually only found on Intel devices. So if you own a device that features Thunderbolt 4 or Thunderbolt 3, it’s very likely it also has an Intel processor. The latest expectation to this rule is the newer Apple Macs that feature an M1 chipset, which does include Thunderbolt support.

What is Thunderbolt 5?

Now we know what Thunderbolt itself is, here is how we think Thunderbolt 5 will be different from previous iterations.

While it’s still early doors, there have been a few sneaky information drops. Intel executive Gregory Bryant tweeted – and later quickly removed – a sneak-peak of Thunderbolt 5, claiming that it had 80G PHY Technology.

This would reference a physical connector that offers 80Gbps connections, which would be a huge improvement on its predecessor, which maxes out at 40Gbps.

Anandtech managed to spot the tweet before it was deleted, also revealing that the next-generation connector will be a USB 80G and targeted to support the existing USC-C ecosystem. This proves that Intel won’t be changing the USB-C connector port alongside the updated bandwidth.

Thunderbolt 5 Tweet
Credit: Anandtech

It is important to note, however, that hubs, cables and devices will still need to be replaced with ones that specifically support Thunderbolt 5, but anyone that’s invested a lot of time into USB-C connectivity shouldn’t have to worry.

The tweet also revealed that the next-generation tech will use PAM-3 modulation technology, which helps achieve a higher bandwidth without the limitations that PAM-4 requires. So in laymen’s terms, the modulation technology included in Thunderbolt 5 should offer a better and faster connection.

Since we still aren’t too sure when Thunderbolt 5 will make its appearance, keep this page bookmarked as we’ll be updating it as more information becomes available.

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