The DisplayPort 2.1 specs had been formally released by VESA on Monday, and this was adopted up by USB-IF’s announcement of the discharge of the 80 Gbps USB4 v2 specifications yesterday. These have have delivered to fore the numerous engineering efforts put into making a unified protocol able to dealing with the exterior I/O bandwidth necessities of tomorrow’s computing methods. At this time, Intel is saying the demonstration of early prototypes for next-generation Thunderbolt primarily based on the USB4 v2 and DisplayPort 2.1 specs.
Intel’s donation of the Thunderbolt 3 specs to the USB promoters group to kind the idea of USB4 has had its share of execs and cons. On one hand, the convergence of the Sort-C connector ecosystem theoretically achieved the aim of minimizing end-user confusion, and the royalty-free spec for PCIe tunneling opened up the market to different silicon distributors like ASMedia. Nonetheless, it additionally created shopper angst as a lot of the enticing options of USB4 (such because the 40Gbps bandwidth and compatibility with PCIe tunneling) had been totally non-compulsory options. That stated, it did allow Intel to market Thunderbolt ports because the Sort-C that would do all of it. Intel’s demonstration of Subsequent Era Thunderbolt additionally included a sneak peek into its specs, regardless that sure elements are but to be finalized. Earlier than delving deeper into Intel’s press launch, a fast recap of the 80 Gbps USB4 v2 specs announcement is important.
USB4 v2 Updates
USB4 v2 builds upon the multi-protocol tunneling structure launched in USB4 by doubling the obtainable bandwidth whereas sustaining the identical port / pins structure and cable construction. This has been achieved by transferring the bodily layer sign encoding to PAM3 (described intimately in our coverage of 80 Gbps ‘Thunderbolt 5’ final yr). Which means that present 40Gbps USB4 cables will be capable of assist 80Gbps operation additionally.
The USB4 v2 specs now enable tunneling of DisplayPort 2.1 indicators and as much as 4 PCIe 4.0 lanes. The info and show protocol updates additionally make it extra environment friendly, with USB information tunneling able to exceeding 20 Gbps.
One of many key updates within the transfer to assist DisplayPort 2.1 tunneling pertains to the utmost whole bandwidth for 4 lanes in UHBR 20 transmission mode. This interprets to 80 Gbps, basically leaving nothing spare on the transmit facet for another protocol. To deal with this, USB4 v2 introduces the idea of uneven hyperlinks. Generally, a USB4 hyperlink makes use of two bonded high-speed differential signaling pairs to transmit and obtain information, permitting for 40 Gbps duplex operation (40 Gbps transmit and 40 Gbps obtain) within the symmetric case. Nonetheless, the lane initialization course of can optionally configure the hyperlink to have 3 transmitters and one receiver on one facet, and three receivers and one transmitter on the opposite. Mixed with the upper information charges because of PAM3, this may enable the host to ship out 120 Gbps, whereas reducing the obtain bandwidth to 40 Gbps. Excessive-resolution shows might be reliably pushed with out an excessive amount of of a sacrifice of the bandwidth obtainable on the transmit facet for different functions (like high-speed storage).
The facility supply specs have additionally been up to date to match the updates made in USB4 v2, and new emblem pointers have been issued for consumer-facing tools.
Thunderbolt has seen unimaginable momentum over the past couple of years – triggered primarily by the mixing of Thunderbolt controllers contained in the high-volume pocket book processors beginning with Ice Lake. The mix of knowledge, video, and energy supply in a single port / cable makes it helpful to a number of use-cases. Specifically, the rising recognition of hybrid work / hot-desking (displays / networking and so on. behind a dock, permitting a number of staff to only plug of their Thunderbolt-equipped methods at totally different instances) has additionally served as a fillip to Thunderbolt adoption within the enterprise / workplace area. Players and content material creators have an unimaginable thirst for I/O bandwidth that’s served effectively by Thunderbolt.
As talked about earlier, Subsequent Era Thunderbolt takes the USB4 v2 specs as baseline and makes all the enticing non-compulsory options into obligatory ones. On high of this, Intel’s integration of Thunderbolt into the pocket book processors ensures that the implementation is energy environment friendly on the host facet. Making Thunderbolt obligatory for Intel Evo and vPro notebooks additional cements Intel’s management within the USB4 v2 area.
The dynamic bandwidth rebalancing characteristic permitting tunneling of the best bandwidth DisplayPort 2.1 streams whereas nonetheless permitting utilization of high-bandwidth peripherals is among the most fun options of USB4 v2 that’s positive to be obtainable in methods outfitted with the Subsequent Era Thunderbolt ports.
Intel’s demonstration included each host and system implementations, with the host configuration proven at first. A discrete GPU’s DisplayPort output is fed into the host controller board, and two Sort-C cables fork off, one ostensibly to the show, and one other to a dock (system) with a SSD hooked up.
Facets reminiscent of energy supply limits (Thunderbolt 3 / 4 assist as much as 15W by default) for the Subsequent-Era Thunderbolt ports will probably be clarified within the close to future. Intel didn’t present any info associated to market availability.
Based mostly on a look by way of the USB4 v2 specs and Intel’s description of Subsequent-Era Thunderbolt, it’s clear that Thunderbolt ports will proceed to stay the Sort-C port that does all of it.