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Thunderbolt 5 has been officially announced, and it represents a significant advancement in terms of speed. It increases the bandwidth from 40 Gbps to 120 Gbps, doubles the number of PCIe lanes, and has the capability to deliver up to 240W of power through a single USB-C cable.
In a standard configuration, Thunderbolt 5 will provide 80 Gbps, utilizing two of its four PCIe lanes for bidirectional bandwidth. This is twice as fast as Thunderbolt 4. However, when additional bandwidth is required, such as for high-resolution displays, Thunderbolt 5 can transmit up to 40 Gbps in three of its four lanes – resulting in a total of 120 Gbps for transmission and 40 Gbps for receiving data.
All this increased bandwidth will enable the simultaneous operation of three 4K 144Hz displays, multiple 8K displays, or a single monitor with an incredible refresh rate of 540Hz.
With the potential for up to 240W of power delivery, Thunderbolt 5 could eliminate the need for proprietary chargers for gaming laptops, allowing them to rely solely on USB-C for charging.
However, Thunderbolt 4 will still be available. Intel intends to reserve Thunderbolt 5 for content creation, gaming, and workstation systems, while Thunderbolt 4 will continue to serve users who do not require as much bandwidth.
It’s important to note that Thunderbolt 5 is not integrated into Intel’s 14th generation processors. Instead, it will require a separate chip called Barlow Ridge. Intel has announced that the first devices featuring Thunderbolt 5 will be available in 2024.