Intel says the next generation of Thunderbolt technology will allow for bi-directional data transfer speeds up to 80 Gbps, for twice the speed of Thunderbolt 4. And for video applications, Thunderbolt will support the DisplayPort 2.1 specification and 1-way data speeds as high as 120 Gbps.
If that sounds familiar, it’s because the USB Promotor Group recently introduced the USB4 v2 specification with similar capabilities. But there still might be at least one good reason to look forward to the next generation of Thunderbolt.
The USB4 v2 spec allows device makers to offer ports, cables, and other devices to offer support for DisplayPort 2.1, 80 Gbps bi-directional data, and 120 Gbps uni-directional video output. But it doesn’t require devices to have those features in order to qualify.
So you can expect some next-gen USB4 devices to top out at slower speeds.
Intel, meanwhile, says every device certified to meet the next-gen Thunderbolt specification will support all of those features. So basically you’ll have two options if you’re shopping for devices and accessories that take full advantage of all that USB4 v2 has to offer: look for a Thunderbolt logo or look very carefully at the USB logo (the Promotors Forum is encouraging device makers to adopt new logos that actually include the data and charging rates).
Intel says it will announce branding for its next-gen Thunderbolt technology, as well as more information on its capabilities, in 2023.