Thunderbolt 4 evolves through USB-C

Thunderbolt 4 - want to know more? (© Robin Belford CPEng, 2021)

Chartered Engineer Robin Belford has produced a Thunderbolt 4 White Paper on the development of Thunderbolt 4 and its evolution from USB-C.

You can download the Thunderbolt 4 White Paper and get the exact and credible information you need. Don't rely on FaceBook, download our Thunderbolt 4 White Paper and understand what Thunderbolt 4 is all about.

We've copied a snippet of the full Thunderbolt 4 White Paper to whet your appetite -

Thunderbolt combines PCI Express and Mini DisplayPort into a serial data interface.

  1. Thunderbolt 1 implementations have two channels, each with a transfer speed of 10 Gbit/s, resulting in an aggregate unidirectional bandwidth of 20 Gbit/s.
  2. Thunderbolt 2 uses link aggregation to combine the two 10 Gbit/s channels into one bi-directional 20 Gbit/s channel.
  3. Thunderbolt 3 uses the USB Type-C connector. Thunderbolt 3 has one 40 Gbit/s channel. With the older Thunderbolt standards, the cable was active, meaning the cable itself is a device that requires power to operate (which is why most Thunderbolt 1 or 2 devices would require an external power source in order to function.) This made Thunderbolt a much more expensive solution, as the cable itself is some 10 times more expensive than a USB cable of the same length.

Here's how Thunderbolt 3 is different from its predecessors:

  • The Mini DisplayPort connection type has changed to a USB-C type connection.
  • All Thunderbolt 3 cables will work as USB-C cables.
  • Not all USB-C cables will work as Thunderbolt 3 cables.
  • Thunderbolt 3 has a top data transfer speed of 40Gbps as long as the cable is ≤0.5m.
  • For longer cables, Thunderbolt 3 supports passive mode cables (cheaper) that have a top speed of 20Gbps, and active mode cables (more expensive) that retain the 40Gbps speed.
  • Thunderbolt 3 is backward-compatible with earlier versions of Thunderbolt, but due to the new port type, adapters are required to use legacy Thunderbolt devices.
  • Any USB-C device plugged into a Thunderbolt 3 port will function normally.
  • Thunderbolt devices use discrete Thunderbolt chips to function, and as such they will not function if plugged into a USB-C port.

USB Types

USB Type-A - Also known as USB Standard-A, USB Type-A is the original design for the USB standard and uses a flat rectangular shape.

On a typical USB cable, the Type A connector, aka the A-male connector, is the end that goes into a host, such as a computer. And on a host, the USB port (or receptacle) where the Type A-male is inserted, is called an A-female port. Type-A ports are mostly in host devices, including desktop computers, laptops, game consoles, media players and so on. There are very few peripheral devices that use a Type-A port.

Different USB versions including USB 1.1, USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 (more on differing versions below) currently share the same USB Type-A design. That means a Type-A connector is always compatible with a Type-A port event if the device and host use different USB versions. For example, a USB 3.0 external hard drive also works with a USB 2.0 port, and vice versa.

Similarly, small devices such as a mouse, keyboard or network adapter that have hard-wired USB cables always use Type-A connectors. That's true also for gadgets without cables, such as a thumb drive.

USB 3.0's connectors and ports have have more pins than USB 2.0. This is in order to deliver faster speeds and higher power output. However, these pins are organized in a way that doesn't prevent them from physically working with the older version.

Also note that there are smaller Type-A plugs and connectors, including Mini Type-A and Micro Type-A, but there are very few devices that use these designs.

(© Robin Belford CPEng, 2021)

Thunderbolt 4 evolves through USB-C | HomeKit Australia

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