The next version of Thunderbolt is built for multi-monitor setups

Now that fast ports are a given for computers, how will Intel make Thunderbolt more enticing? By apparently courting enthusiasts who demand a wall of monitors. The company has unveiled a next-generation Thunderbolt standard that will offer more bandwidth for multi-monitor setups and other “visually intensive uses.” While the port typically offers 80 gigabits per second of bandwidth, like the USB 4 version 2.0 specification it’s built on, it automatically switches to a special mode of 120 Gbps upstream and 40 Gbps downstream when the resolution or refresh rate is compromised your screen requires higher performance.

You can also expect DisplayPort 2.1 support, dual PCI Express data (important for external GPUs), and backwards compatibility with previous formats, and passive cables up to 3.3 feet in length.

That’s not far from the new USB 4 standard. As The edge points out, however, that Intel is betting that consistency will persuade PC makers to adopt the new technology. “Many” of USB 4’s new features are optional where they’re required with the new Thunderbolt, says Intel’s Jason Ziller. While the USB Implementers Forum is improving labeling, you might want Thunderbolt to ensure your gaming rig or creative studio can handle whatever monitors you want.

Intel plans to share the final name and capabilities of the updated Thunderbolt standard sometime in 2023. This could give some users a reason to buy Intel-powered computers (or Macs, if Apple takes over the port) in the next year. However, it is clear that the gap between Thunderbolt and USB has narrowed significantly. You might not have much reason to buy an Intel Core-based PC when a USB 4 equipped AMD system might offer near-identical connectivity.

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