Intel chief accidentally spills big upgrade for Thunderbolt 5

Intel chief accidentally spills big upgrade for Thunderbolt 5

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MacBook Thunderbolt 3 ports
Speeds of up to 80 Gbps?
Photo: Apple

Thunderbolt 5 could double the speed of data transfers in future Mac and iPad Pro models, according to an accidental leak from one Intel executive.

The technology will use the same USB-C connector we’re now accustomed to, but with double the effective bandwidth — from 40 Gbps in Thunderbolt 4 to a staggering 80 Gbps.

Apple has long been a big supporter of Thunderbolt. It was an early adopter of Intel’s technology back in 2011 and has continued to bake it into all Mac models ever since. This year, it also brought the technology to iPad Pro.

Thunderbolt is incredibly versatile, and it delivers insanely fast data transfer speeds — which could be about to get significantly faster, according to an accidental photo tweet from Intel executive Gregory Bryant.

Thunderbolt 5 to boost data transfer speeds

Bryant published a bunch of photos during a visit to some of Intel’s research and development facilities in Israel. In one of the photos, which has since been deleted, Bryant inadvertently spilled Thunderbolt 5’s data speeds.

“In this image we can see a poster on the wall showcasing ‘80G PHY Technology’, which means that Intel is working on a physical layer (PHY) for 80 Gbps connections,” explains a report from AnandTech.

“The second line confirms that this is ‘USB 80G is targeted to support the existing USB-C ecosystem’, which follows along that Intel is aiming to maintain the USB-C connector but double the effective bandwidth.”

That’s excellent news for all of us. It means Thunderbolt 5 will allow you to transfer movies, photos, and other large files even faster — without forcing us to splash out on new accessories and cables that use a new connector.

It’s not confirmed

Of course, we should point out that this news hasn’t been confirmed by Intel yet — and again, Bryant has since removed the image. That could be because Intel simply isn’t ready to confirm anything yet.

Or, it could be because that the company is struggling to hit that 80 Gbps target, and the actual speed of Thunderbolt 5 will be lower. Either way, it should be faster than the already speedy Thunderbolt 4.

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