Thunderbolt 4 will support a pair of 4K displays, PCIe speeds have been doubled to 32Gbps, cables can be up to 2 metres in length, and Intel is requiring its VT-d direct memory access protection be used to prevent peripherals from gaining unauthorised access to system memory.
The chip giant said it was looking at cables with lengths of between 5 and 50 metres for the future. While Thunderbolt 4 cables will have the lightning bolt logo with a small number 4 under it, ports will continue to just have the logo.
For what Intel is classing as "thin and light" laptops, those devices must be able to draw down enough power to charge over Thunderbolt 4, and when connected to a dock they must wake from sleep. Intel said it was also introducing docks with four Thunderbolt 4 ports that would be able to transfer data, run a display, and power a computer over a single cable back to a thin laptop.
While Thunderbolt 3 is classified as compatible with USB 4, the newest Thunderbolt iteration is now classed as compliant. Intel contributed Thunderbolt 3 to the development of USB 4.
"Thunderbolt 4 will offer the most complete version of USB-C with a required superset of capabilities not required by USB 4," Intel said.