120 Gbps bandwidth and up to 240 watts of power: Thunderbolt 5 is here!

Written by Guillaume
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This article is an automatic translation

Expected sometime next year, Thunderbolt 5 promises to take one of the world's most advanced connectivity systems to the next level.

The Intel Innovation 2023 event is just getting underway, but Intel has introduced several new features even before the show opens. These include Thunderbolt 5, which logically builds on some of the strengths of Thunderbolt 4, as well as USB4, to further develop an increasingly versatile connector. Intel's aim is, of course, to build on the success of previous iterations of Thunderbolt, the first of which was launched in 2011, following work that began in 2007. Apple was one of the first companies to place its trust in Thunderbolt, reputed to be more reliable and higher-performance than the classic USB.

On the occasion ofIntel Innovation 2023, Intel is therefore announcing the characteristics of Thunderbolt 5, but is not yet giving a precise date for the technology's launch. There's every reason to believe that the first Thunderbolt 5-equipped PCs will arrive in the course of next year and, for Intel, this should coincide with the widespread availability of the Meteor Lake platform, designed to exploit Thunderbolt 5's capabilities to the full.

Among these capabilities, it's obviously the increase in bandwidth that catches the eye. We're talking about double the bandwidth of Thunderbolt 4, which was already double that of its most direct competitor, USB 3. Today, we're talking about 120 Gbps, but Intel also insists on the versatility of its connectivity: this very high bandwidth has, above all, the good taste of being adjustable according to needs, with several Intel examples to show that flows can be equally distributed between transmission and reception, but that it is also possible to obtain an asymmetrical distribution to favor one of the two aspects.

Of course, during its presentation, Intel placed great emphasis on Tunderbolt 5's "universal" compatibility: it was specified that the new connector is 100% compatible with Thunderbolt 3 and 4, of course, but also with USB 3 and 4 and DisplayPort 2.1, to confirm the new connector's predisposition for display. Connectivity is also very well equipped in terms of refresh rate. Gamers will be able to enjoy 540 Hz streams to satisfy the most demanding, as well as three plus 4K streams at 144 Hz: a configuration more suited to content creators, for example.

And last but not least, Thunderbolt 5 will also offer power supply "options". The maximum power allowed by the new technology is 240 watts, i.e. 100 more than with Thunderbolt 4. This level of power should make it possible to power even fairly hefty laptops, although some users have pointed out that there are already laptop models that can't cope with 240 watts. Only time will tell whether, as Intel believes, this maximum power of 240 watts will enable the development of external graphics solutions.