Thunderbolt 4 - The Strong Rival of USB 4 (1)

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If you're looking for a new laptop or expansion accessories, the various names may confuse you, but it doesn't look any different! This time, we will talk about thunderbolt. As Thunderbolt 4 gradually replaces Thunderbolt 3 and, USB4 is the new trend of USB specifications, the difference in names obviously makes everyone more confused. 

(Photo Credit: Caldigit)

Thunderbolt is a transmission standard published by Intel. It is intended to be used as a general bus between computers and other devices. The 1st 2nd generation is integrated with the connection interface of Mini DisplayPort. The 3rd generation is combined with USB Type-C supporting power application. Now the latest version is Thunderbolt 4 in 2020.


Thunderbolt 4 has the same speed as the previous generation, with a maximum transfer speed of 40Gbps, but the minimum PCIe data requirement has been increased from 16Gbps to 32Gbps. In addition, there are up to 5 devices that can be connected in series, and all devices only need one Thunderbolt 4 cable to be powered.


Thunderbolt 4 also continues the Type C interface used in Thunderbolt 3. They use a common cable for solving purchase troubles where users may feel confused when purchasing. There may be many versions of USB-related cables, but Thunderbolt 4 does not have this problem. You may wonder what difference is from USB4.

(Photo Credit: Intel)

Although we see USB4, there are actually 4 different versions of USB4, two of them are USB4 20Gbps (Gen 3x1) and USB4 40Gbps (Gen 3x2). The difference is that Thunderbolt 3 and Thunderbolt 4 ensure basic electrical performance.


Thunderbolt 4 and USB4 are compatible, but only Thunderbolt 4 can provide certain level of performance in some applications. However, the advantage of USB4 is in licensing (free). If manufacturers want to manufacture products that support Thunderbolt 4, they must pay licensing fees to Intel.


Cover Photo Credit: Caldigit

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