Intel Leak Shows Thunderbolt Speeds Could Double Sometime Soon

Intel Leak Shows Thunderbolt Speeds Could Double Sometime Soon
Photo: AFP / Stringer, Getty Images

When Intel released Thunderbolt 4 last year as a successor to Thunderbolt 3, many people were confused and disappointed to realise that the update offered the same 40Gbps bandwidth as its predecessor. Now, Intel is stepping up with the Thunderbolt 5, a photo prematurely tweeted out by a company executive shows, and Mac users may soon benefit from bandwidths of up to 80Gbps.

On Sunday, AnandTech caught Intel’s Client Computing Group EVP and GM, Gregory Bryant, tweeting and deleting a photo in which a sign touting ‘80G PHY Technology’ is clearly visible in the background. For context, Bryant has been tweeting about his trip to visit Intel’s Israel R&D facilities all week, and the deleted photo originally accompanied other shots of his tour at a validation lab and meetings with the overseas team.

While the exact bandwidth of Thunderbolt 5 is still unconfirmed, the fact that the tweet was deleted so quickly definitely suggests that the information was released accidentally. In any case, the increased speed wouldn’t necessarily come as a surprise: Back in March, Intel’s director of I/O strategy in the Client Connectivity Division, Ben Hacker, told The Tom’s Hardware Show that a bandwidth roughly double the speed of Thunderbolt 4 could be imminent.

“What I think we’re pretty confident of is for at least another speed bump somewhere, and who knows exactly what that is, but call it roughly a doubling,” Hacker said.

If the leaked photo is to be believed — no promises — Thunderbolt 5 will feature USB 80G in order to “support the existing USB-C ecosystem,” which means that Intel is doubling down on keeping its technology relevant for users who still rely on standard USB-C connections. An early adopter of Thunderbolt, Apple long included standalone ports in its Macs before eventually updating the standard to use USB-C connectors.