With the varieties of USB and Thunderbolt terminology floating about, as well as new versions on the horizon, sorting out the mess can be a problem. AppleInsider‘s Malcolm Owen covers what you need to know about USB 3, USB 4, USB-C, Thunderbolt 3, and Thunderbolt 4.
If you don’t read any further, here’s your main takeaway: The term “USB-C” by itself doesn’t specify anything for data, charging, or video beyond the physicality of the connector. But, as you might expect, there are a lot of details behind USB 3, USB 4, Thunderbolt 3, Thunderbolt 4, and how they pertain to the USB-C connector.
Launched in 2020, Thunderbolt 4 is Intel’s move to improve upon the groundwork of Thunderbolt 3. Unlike the shift from Thunderbolt 2 to Thunderbolt 3, there’s no change to the 40Gbps throughput Thunderbolt 4 will provide, but the way it does so will be improved.
For a start, the standard will increase the minimum video and data requirements from what was demanded for Thunderbolt 3 certification. Rather than supporting one 4K display, a Thunderbolt 4 device must be able to handle at least two 4K displays or one 8K screen, while the PCIe support for storage must be able to support 32Gbps transfers, up from 16Gbps.
Thunderbolt 4 will also include support for docks with up to four Thunderbolt 4 ports, with the bonus of the ability to wake a computer by touching the keyboard or mouse, when both the peripherals and the computer are connected to the dock.
MacDailyNews Take: Anyone who has, for example, a 16-inch MacBook Pro and two 4K displays (which is what our setups look like today) knows that what we really want is a simple box (or two) that connects to one (or two) of our four Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) ports and gives us multiple Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) ports. We don’t want Swiss army knife docks with antiquated card readers and USB Type-A ports and other assorted (forever unused) crap. So, we welcome Thunderbolt 4 even though, we’ll need new Macs (but, we will anyway with the upgrade to Apple silicon). Note: Apple Silicon Macs will continue to support Thunderbolt.