Explore How Thunderbolt™ 4 Technology Delivers New Capabilities and Improvements Over the Previous-Generation Thunderbolt™ 3 Technology
Thunderbolt™ 4 technology advances the universal connectivity standard by doubling the minimum video and data requirements of Thunderbolt™ 3 technology and by expanding end-to-end solution capabilities.
What Is Thunderbolt™ Technology?
Developed by Intel, Thunderbolt™ technology is a powerful connectivity standard that delivers data, video signal, and laptop charging over a single connection. The versatility of Thunderbolt™ technology makes it a top choice among workers, gamers, and content creators who want to organize and enhance their productivity space with fewer cables.
The Differences Between Thunderbolt™ 3 and Thunderbolt™ 4 Technology
Thunderbolt™ 4 technology is the next generation of the Thunderbolt™ protocol, following Thunderbolt™ 3 technology. Both generations use the same USB-C connector type, but Thunderbolt™ 4 technology introduces higher minimum requirements and new capabilities for a best-in-class user experience.
Required Support for Dual 4K Monitors or One 8K Monitor
Thunderbolt™ 4 technology requires support for dual 4K monitors or one 8K monitor vs. Thunderbolt™ 3 technology, which only requires support for one 4K monitor. Note that while Thunderbolt™ 3 protocol-enabled computers aren’t required to support dual 4K monitors, some can. As a best practice, review your device specs, or check with the manufacturer to find out what your device can support.
Higher Minimum Data Transfer Speed
Known for its high-speed data transfer rates, Thunderbolt™ technology is favored among gamers and creators for the ability to move massive files in a short amount of time. Thunderbolt™ 4 technology advances the standard even further by doubling Thunderbolt™ 3 technology’s minimum data transfer bandwidth from 16 Gbps to 32 Gbps. Both Thunderbolt™ 4 and Thunderbolt™ 3 technology offer up to 40 Gbps connections, but higher minimums provide the assurance that users are getting higher speeds with Thunderbolt™ 4 technology.
When connecting a laptop to a Thunderbolt™ technology-enabled dock, hub, or monitor, users can expect fast device charging, so your PC is ready to go mobile when you are. Thunderbolt™ 4 product certification requires at least one computer port that provides laptop charging1, unlike other USB-C ports that don’t guarantee system charging. Both Thunderbolt™ 4 and Thunderbolt™ 3 ports provide 15W power to all Thunderbolt™ accessories and can also be used to charge smartphones.
Wake from Sleep Mode
A connected keyboard or mouse input can wake a sleeping computer over a Thunderbolt™ 4 interface. For users who connect their laptops to a Thunderbolt™ technology-enabled dock or hub, this feature provides the convenience of quickly waking up a computer so they can get back to their work, game, or creation in seconds.
More Thunderbolt™ Ports
More ports mean more connected accessories and monitors. Thunderbolt™ 4 technology now supports up to four ports per accessory, compared to two ports with Thunderbolt™ 3 technology.
Thunderbolt™ 4 technology is backward compatible with Thunderbolt™ 3 technology, and users can connect cross-generational computers and accessories interchangeably.
Memory isolation is a key security capability that helps protect computers from data loss and attacks like memory snooping. Thunderbolt™ 4 technology now requires Intel® VT-D-based direct memory access (DMA) protection or equivalent. (The Thunderbolt™ 3 protocol supported this capability, but the latest generation makes it a requirement.) DMA protection helps ensure that accessories connected through a Thunderbolt™ port can only access the data for their specific workloads by isolating data in memory.
To illustrate this point, imagine a wall of mailboxes. DMA protection helps ensure that only you have the key to your mailbox. Neighbors can’t take letters (data) from your mailbox, and vice versa.
USB4 Specification Compliant
Both Thunderbolt™ 4 and Thunderbolt™ 3 technologies are compatible with the USB4 specification, allowing users to use Thunderbolt™ 4 and Thunderbolt™ 3 products with USB4 ports.
Choosing Between Thunderbolt™ 3 and Thunderbolt™ 4 Products
Both generations of Thunderbolt™ technology offer a great experience for connecting and powering multiple devices. Many of the latest laptops feature Thunderbolt™ 4 ports, while the accessories market includes a wide variety of both Thunderbolt™ 4 and Thunderbolt™ 3 technology-based solutions. These laptops and accessories will work together smoothly.
Devices can exceed Thunderbolt™ technology’s minimum requirements, so it’s important to review your device specifications or check with the device manufacturer if you are looking for a specific feature or capability.
Shop Thunderbolt™ Products
Get Thunderbolt™ 4 technology on the latest computers for Windows, Mac, Linux, and Chrome OS. At least one Thunderbolt™ 4 port is required on all Intel® Evo™ laptops and all Intel vPro® computers powered by Intel® Core™ processors.