Intel photo mentions 80Gbit/s for upcoming Thunderbolt generation

A now-deleted photo, taken in Intel’s validation lab in Israel, shows the company working on 80Gbit/s connections for the upcoming Thunderbolt generation. That generation should again work in combination with USB-C.

The photo shows a poster describing 80 PHY technology, indicating that Intel is working on a physical layer for 80Gbit/s connections. That’s twice the bandwidth of the current Thunderbolt 4 generation. The photo was published this weekend by Gregory Bryant, general manager of Intel’s Client Computing Group. He visited Intel’s R&D facility in Israel. The photo has since been removed, but AnandTech picked up the news after a tip from Wikichips David Schor.

The poster in the image describes that ‘USB 80G aims to support the existing USB-C ecosystem’. In addition, the technology is based on PAM-3 modulation. PAM stands for pulse amplitude modulation, a modulation technique for sending signals over cables.

PAM 2-level, or non-return-to-zero, uses 1 bit, or 0 and 1. PAM-4, used for 400Gbit/s Ethernet, among other things, uses 2 bits, or four voltage levels, to be able to send 00, 01, 11 and 10. PAM-3, which Intel apparently uses in development for the upcoming Thunderbolt generation, in turn uses -1, 0 and 1 in signal transmission, which puts the bandwidth between that of PAM-2 and PAM-4.

It is unknown when the next Thunderbolt generation should be ready. Intel announced Thunderbolt 4 last year. Thunderbolt 3 is from 2015.

Photo: Gregory Bryant, AnandTech