An Intel executive tweeted a picture that showed specifics on developing Thunderbolt 5. Intel’s current ambition is to double the current Thunderbolt capacity to 80 Gbps.
This very tweet was posted early Sunday morning by Intel Client Computing Group executive vice president and general manager Gregory Bryant and has solicited speculation about the future of Thunderbolt as a communications technology. In a visit to Intel’s Research and Development Center in Israel, the executive showed a collection of four pictures but silently eliminated one.
The image was discovered by Anandtech and removed from Twitter due to the background banner promoting Thunderbolt 5. The sign includes important information about how the connection works, such as “USB 80G.”
While the poster didn’t mention Thunderbolt, the tweet of Bryan suggests it was a lab tour linked to Thunderbolt. Furthermore, given that the Thunderbolt 3 specifications can be integrated into the USB 4 standard, Intel’s Thunderbolt and USB are nearby, it seems highly probable that the poster is about Thunderbolt 5.
According to the poster in the image, the connection is “intended to support the existing USB-C ecosystem,” meaning that Intel plans to continue using the USB Type-C connection.
The tech behind Thunderbolt 5
A unique aspect of the poster is the use of “new PAM-3” modulation technology. It demonstrates Intel’s willingness to investigate an altogether new bitstreaming system.
The data line usually transmits one bit at a time with an electrical signal that switches between two states, also known as the NRZ encoder. The Pulse Amplitude Modulation4 (PAM-4) option states how two bits can be simultaneously transmitted, with the four referring to the number of bit pairs it can produce.
PAM-3 differs because a data line between 0, +1, or-1 can move between three states. A transmit pair tells the system what a group of three bits is, which helps provide around 50 percent more efficiency than the NRZ.
Thunderbolt 5 could reach 80 Gbps
Thunderbolt 5 should theoretically offer several of Thunderbolt 3’s existing advantages, including power supply, video, Thunderbolt networking, and substantial bandwidth quantities. The increased bandwidth of 40 Gbps to 80 Gbps in the Thunderbolt 5 case will allow faster transfers of files and will retain high-data communications between interconnected devices with fewer restrictions.
Thunderbolt 5 connectors would reach speeds of 80 Gbps thanks to 80G PHY technology. This speed doubles that of Thunderbolt 4 and USB 4 connectors. As a practical example, the rate of 80 Gbps is that even the most significant games such as Cyberpunk 2077 or Call of Duty Warzone would take just a few seconds of transfer at their peak speed.
High Quality 8K videos at 120hz
Intel’s Thunderbolt 5 connection is expected to deliver high-quality images on 4Kor 8K monitors, at 120hz and 60hz, respectively. Hopefully, Intel will unveil the new version of Intel’s proprietary connector soon and will launch the first compatible CPUs, motherboards, and chipsets to take advantage of this enormous data transfer speed, which will go far beyond the transfer of large amounts of files between high-capacity storage devices.
Apple’s current products support Thunderbolt 3. While some accessories with Thunderbolt 4 support have been released, it may be a while before Apple switches to the standard.
The Thunderbolt 5 remains to be seen publicly, but an unexpected leak at any case gives you an idea of what to expect from the release of the standard.
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