Intel Announces Thunderbolt 4 – Update

Intel has announced Thunderbolt 4, the networking standard that will appear later this year with the arrival of Tiger Lake laptop processors and accessories. There will be docks with four Thunderbolt 4 ports, among other things.

As expected, Thunderbolt 4 features are nearly the same as predecessor Thunderbolt 3. Intel has increased the minimum requirements that Thunderbolt 4 PCs must meet from version 3, improved security, and added four Thunderbolt 4 accessories. ports enabled.

Basically it is still a network standard with support for 40Gbit/s connections via a single usb-c cable, which also works with the protocols for usb 4, displayport and pci-e. Intel reports that universal Thunderbolt 4 cables of up to two meters are coming that support 40Gbit/s.

In a somewhat confusing comparison with Thunderbolt 3 and USB, Intel shows that version 4 supports the control of two 4k screens. Thunderbolt 3 already did that, but Intel mentions the minimum requirements that a PC with Thunderbolt 4 must meet in the table. In the future, consumers can therefore assume that they can control two 4k screens, whereas with Thunderbolt 3 this could also be a single screen.

The minimum system requirements have also been increased for pci-e; from now on, it is based on a throughput of 32Gbit/s instead of 16Gbit/s. In addition, charging the system on at least an existing Thunderbolt 4 port is required for thin and light laptops that require less than 100W.

To qualify for Thunderbolt 4 certification, manufacturers must now also provide DMA protection based on Intel’s Virtualization Technology for Directed I/O or a similar technique. This ensures that operating systems can take advantage of dma remapping, thereby isolating memory for Thunderbolt-connected devices. The operating systems that can handle this are Windows 10 from version 1803, macOS from 10.8.2 and Linux from kernel version 4.21. The technology must provide protection against vulnerabilities in the Thunderbolt protocol.

The first PCs and accessories with Thunderbolt 4 will be released later this year. PC makers can use the Intel JHL8540 and JHL8340 controllers for this, accessory manufacturers of the JHL8440.

Update, Thursday, 09-07: Intel clarifies to Hardware Info that not only Intel VT-d but also similar DMA protection techniques may be used for Thunderbolt 4 certifications. This means that systems with AMD or ARM processors can also be equipped with Thunderbolt 4. Apple confirmed that this will be the case with its Mac computers with its own ARM processor. AMD reports that the Zen 2 architecture offers DMA security over AMD-Vi.