Thunderbolt ports have been a feature of Macs for years – technology was introduced to Windows a long time ago. Despite parting ways with Intel over silicon for the Mac, Apple has announced that it will continue to work with Intel to continue to ship the Mac – even with future custom Apple silicon – With Thunderbolt ports.
“A decade ago, Apple partnered with Intel to design and develop Thunderbolt, and today our customers enjoy the speed and flexibility that comes on every Mac,” Apple’s statement The ledge Read. “We are committed to the future of Thunderbolt and will support it in Macs with Apple Silicon.”
While Apple had announced that it would move away from Intel’s x86 platform in favor of its own custom ARM-based silicon, developers and enthusiasts were wary of what the move might mean for the future of Thunderbolt on the Mac.
In particular, the Mac Mini development kit that debuted at the Worldwide Developers Conference 2020 did not ship with the Thunderbolt 3 port and instead relied on standard USB-C connectivity, while still available for purchase today with Intel-based The Mac Mini comes with four Thunderbolt 3 over USB. -C ports Thunderbolt are not currently available on other Apple Silicon devices, such as the iPad Pro.
Thunderbolt 3 is currently supported on almost all of Apple’s Mac lineups, including the MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, Mac Mini, iMac and Mac Pro.
With Apple’s confirmation that Thunderbolt will survive Intel’s divorce, developers and Mac supporters need not worry in this regard.
Apple’s statement that it will support Thunderbolt on future Macs, regardless of the silicon architecture on the heels of Intel’s Thunderbtt 4 announcement. Thunderbolt 4 will use the same miniature rectangular connector port as Thunderbolt 3, but will also work with USB 4 and provide additional benefits, such as the ability to support dual 4K UHD displays or single 8K monitors.
Intel states that Thunderbolt 4 will initially debut with Tiger Lake laptops, many of which will fall under Project Athena specifications, although it will later release chips to PC manufacturers to introduce Thunderbolt 4 on other systems.
For its part, Apple did not reveal whether it would use the Thunderbolt 3 or the new Thunderbolt 4 specifications when it debuts the Mac with its own custom silicon for consumer purchase. Both Thunderbolt 3 and 4 will support the same 40Gbps data transfer speed, giving them faster options for the 20Gbps USB4 specifications.