Intel director leaks first details about the new standard

Intel director Gregory Bryant inadvertently posted information about the Thunderbolt 5 proposal during a tour of his company’s research facilities in Israel, and it reads amazing.

Bryant reacted quickly – but not fast enough. The Intel manager posted the following tweet on Sunday. In it, he praised the interesting insights he had already been able to obtain at Intel’s laboratories in Israel – Bryant highlighted one of the innovations in Thunderbolt in particular

After initially posting the tweet with four photos, Bryant quickly deleted and reposted it – this time with just three. The fourth picture is the site Anandtic However, be safe and take a closer look.

Thunderbolt 5 can run twice as fast as its predecessor

It turns out that Intel is apparently working on a standard that can transmit 80 Gbps over USB-C instead of the previous maximum of 40 Gbps. It’s very likely Thunderbolt 5. Intel refers to the project internally as “80G PHY Technology,” as evidenced by the image that Bryant deleted.

This poster on the wall betrays a secret. (Photo: Gregory Bryant/Anandtec)

This is hard to explain other than that the manufacturer is running on a physical layer (PHY) for 80Gbps connections and therefore at at least twice the bandwidth of previous Thunderbolt.

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The little sticker provides great insights

If you take a closer look, you can read on the second line of the poster in the photo that “USB 80G is intended to support the current USB-C ecosystem.” Thus the bandwidth will be doubled without changing the connection.

This appears to be achieved by a new transmission technique that uses PAM-3 pulse amplitude modulation, the poster reveals. Simply put, PAM-3 ensures that three bits can be transmitted in two cycles. Pulse amplitude modulation is also used in modern graphics cards, Ethernet devices, and future PCI interfaces.

The test chip is already in use

Intel researchers also developed a corresponding N6 chip. The prototype should already be running in the lab and showing promising results. Note N6 should mean that it is a chip that can be produced by node manufacturer TSMC with a production width of six nanometers.

Bryant’s quick response doesn’t mean Thunderbolt 5 is imminent. After all, Thunderbolt 4 was only announced in January 2020, five years after its predecessor Thunderbolt 3.

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