Thunderbolt 4 will be four times faster than …
Connection standards are constantly evolving. When a version is presented, work is being done to improve it with new features, higher speeds, etc. Therefore, that there is a version 4 of Thunderbolt does not catch anyone by surprise.
The problem is that, as Intel has presented or commented, Thunderbolt 4 is generating many doubts and confusion about what it will really be able to offer. Why, well because Intel shows an image and then says something else.
During the Intel conference at CES 2020, the company has talked about its new Tiger Lake processors, its first dedicated or discrete graphics if you prefer to call it that and Thunderbolt 4 support. And that’s exactly where the messes start a little because It is clear at all what they meant.
One of the slides seen during his presentation shows how the new architecture of Tiger Lake processors will support Thunderbolt 4. And right there is a message that says it will be four times faster than USB 3. But, of course, this is something that Thunderbolt 3 already is and would not make sense.
Therefore, the first option that arises is that Thunderbolt 4 would rather be a name change with some novelty as a greater consistency when two TB3 devices are connected to two different ports.
Or the second, that really, and as it seems that Intel has communicated later, they meant that their processors will have support for USB 3.2 Gen 2 and that Thunderbolt 4 would be four times faster than to that standard. That might make sense, since the bandwidth would reach 20 Gbps in 2 × 2 configuration, and if Thunderbolt 4 exceeds it four times it would be placed in 80 Gbps. This figure would be double Thunderbolt 3 and would meet its natural evolution every version jump.
However, all this is a bit messy until they give it a solution when it is officially presented and with a specifications document in between. What is clear is that to reach such speeds, it will also be necessary to use PCI-E 4.
The future of Thunderbolt 4 and USB 4
With all this mess involved, what you should know is that in these coming months, maybe by the end of the year or the beginning of the next one, the new standards that will appear will be Thunderbolt 4 and USB 4. And of course, seeing the evolution of both , knowing that USB 4 will be based on Thunderbolt 3 and that will allow compatibility with cables and TB3 devices, it is very likely that it is the new USB standard that will end up being massively adopted and reach more equipment.
So, for now, do not complicate yourself by knowing what Thunderbolt 4 or USB 4 will offer or not. Enjoy and squeeze the connections that your equipment currently has and hopefully one day they stop competing and bet on developing a unique connector. For users to gain comfort and versatility.