Thunderbolt 4 vs USB 4 vs Thunderbolt 3

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Intel just released some more information on their new Thunderbolt 4 standard, so if you’re trying to know the difference between Thunderbolt 3, Thunderbolt 4, and USB4, then this article is for you. I’ll also tell you about Apple and how their new ARM-based Macs will know Into this.

The first thing to know about Thunderbolt Four is that it uses the same port design. As it has for years, so just by looking at the port, you won’t be able to tell between a regular USB-C port, a new USB4 port, and a Thunderbolt 4 port, so you’ll have to rely on looking up the specs of the computer or laptop that you’re buying to know which port it is. Now before I get into the specs of Thunderbolt 4, let me first explain what USB-C is and How it compares to Thunderbolt 3.

If you already know all of that, you can skip ahead to this section of the video. The USB Type C connector is the solution to the flawed design of the USB-A connector, which is known for being super annoying since you have to plug something In using the correct orientation. With USB-C, it doesn’t matter how you plug it in since the connectors are in The center, so it works every time.
Now digging deeper into USB-C, different transfer speeds are supported with really confusing names that were recently updated for the second time, and ironically, they’re still complicated. There’s USB 3.2 Gen 1, which supports a maximum speed of 5Gbps, there’s 3.2 Gen 2, which goes up to 10Gbps, and 3.2 Gen 2×2, goes up to 20Gbps. And the only way to know the difference is to check the specs of your computer. But the great thing about USB Type C is that it allows up to 100W of power to be transferred from one device to another, compared to only 7.5W of power using the square USB Type-A Connector. That’s the reason why Apple’s 18W Fast-Charging brick uses USB-C.

Now, this is where Thunderbolt 3 comes in. It uses the same Type-C connector, and it supports USB-C devices, but it also supports speeds of up to 40Gbps. It’s made to encourage more protocols, like DisplayPort 1.2, by using an adapter and PCI Express for handling data transfer between computers and things like GPUs.

And because of its high 40Gbps bandwidth, it’s able to power high-resolution displays like two 4K displays, a single 5K display, or even Apple’s 6K Pro Display XDR by using a new version of Display Stream Compression that squeezes all of those pixels into a less Than 40Gbps stream. And it can even be used to daisy chain multiple monitors or devices together and ultimately end up with just one cable being plugged into your computer. But keep in mind that some Thunderbolt Three cables only support 20Gbps speeds, so it’s imperative to buy the right cable if you want the full 40Gbps speed. But the critical thing to know about Thunderbolt Three is that it almost always requires an Intel-made ThunderBolt 3 Controller chip inside the computer or laptop to support it.

Every time you see a laptop with Thunderbolt Three ports, they had to buy that chip from Intel And integrate it Into their computer. Broll of the port on a silver laptop And on the other side, a device like an SSD that supports Thunderbolt 3 also needs a controller chip certified by Intel, which isn’t free, so that’s why you don’t see very many Thunderbolt 3 devices, at least not cheap ones. And those Thunderbolt 3 controller chips that. I mentioned I could support up to two full-speed Thunderbolt 3 ports. So, for example, with Apple’s 16″ MacBook. Pro, which has four Thunderbolt 3 ports, uses two separate Intel controller chips to support them.

Intel’s newest mobile Ice. Lake processors, they’re finally integrating. Thunderbolt 3 into the processor itself, no longer requiring an external Thunderbolt 3 Controller chip. With all of that out of the way, we can move onto USB4 before we finish with Thunderbolt 4. On March 4th of 2019, Intel released the Thunderbolt Three specifications, finally aking it royalty-free, to be used to form USB4, which uses the same Type-C connector, except that it no longer requires an Intel Thunderbolt controller or Intel certification. It means that we should see USB4 ports coming to every computer and laptop very Soon. But the beauty of USB4 is that it supports the same 40Gbps speed as Thunderbolt 3, so you could potentially use a USB4 port in the future to connect a 6K display. To make it even better, USB4 can support everything that Thunderbolt 3 supports, including Displayport and even PCI Express Tunneling to use with an eGPU.

And this all happens without requiring an Intel Thunderbolt controller or Intel certification, meaning that eGPUs and high-speed devices are going to become cheaper and more widely available Than ever before. But another crucial detail is that not all USB4 ports and cables will be the same, since Intel only requires USB4 wires to support a single 4K display, a minimum of 10Gbps speed and only 7.5W of power delivery, so be sure to buy the correct cable. But basically, USB4 is the dream. You get support for very high 40Gbps data transfer speeds and support for DisplayPort and PCI Express connections, but while being complete. Royalty-free and no longer requiring an Intel controller chip. Now let’s finally move onto Thunderbolt 4, and the most surprising thing is that the maximum speed stays the same at up to 40Gbps, but it still requires a Thunderbolt 4 controller chip and Intel certification, so it doesn’t seem like a very great deal. But it looks like most of the changes are oriented towards quality control, so let’s Take a look at a handy chart created by Intel. Starting from the top, Intel is requiring. Thunderbolt 4 cables to support the full 40GB/s speeds, so you don’t have to worry about buying the wrong cable anymore. Thunderbolt 4 accessories like docks can now have up to four ports instead of the previous Two. Intel now requires Thunderbolt 4 cables to support two 4K displays or one 8K display, support power delivery charging.

Its support wake from sleep when using a Thunderbolt dock, and support Intel VT-D DMA protection, and support full PCI express 32Gbps transfer speeds. And that’s it, the only real new the feature is getting four Thunderbolt ports On a dock instead of two. Other than that, Intel merely requires every Thunderbolt 4 cable and device to support a higher standard of speeds and display support, so you won’t get screwed by buying a cheap Cable. And Intel announced that their Tiger Lake line of CPUs would soon be the first to integrate Thunderbolt 4, and therefore not requiring a controller chip. And to be completely honest, all of those changes don’t matter to regular consumers like me, and I’m finding it hard to believe that manufacturers will jump to support Thunderbolt 4 since the minimum requirements went up, making cables more expensive To produce. And now, let’s finish off with what Apple is going to do now: ditching Intel chips and using their ARM-based chips, which will no longer support Thunderbolt. Wait, stop that’s wrong future Vadim right here. As we were editing the video, Apple just sent a statement to Apple Insider, saying that Apple silicone Macs are going to continue to support Thunderbolt.

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