The DisplayPort 2.1 specs had been formally launched by VESA on Monday, and this was adopted up by USB-IF’s announcement of the discharge of the 80 Gbps USB4 v2 specs yesterday. These have have dropped at 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 techniques. Right now, Intel is saying the demonstration of early prototypes for next-generation Thunderbolt based mostly on the USB4 v2 and DisplayPort 2.1 specs.
Intel’s donation of the Thunderbolt 3 specs to the USB promoters group to type the premise of USB4 has had its share of professionals and cons. On one hand, the convergence of the Kind-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. Nevertheless, it additionally created client angst as a lot of the enticing options of USB4 (such because the 40Gbps bandwidth and compatibility with PCIe tunneling) had been completely non-obligatory options. That mentioned, it did allow Intel to market Thunderbolt ports because the Kind-C that would do all of it. Intel’s demonstration of Subsequent Technology Thunderbolt additionally included a sneak peek into its specs, despite the fact that sure features 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 accessible 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 protection of 80 Gbps ‘Thunderbolt 5’ final 12 months). Which means present 40Gbps USB4 cables will be capable to assist 80Gbps operation additionally.
The USB4 v2 specs now enable tunneling of DisplayPort 2.1 alerts and as much as 4 PCIe 4.0 lanes. The info and show protocol updates additionally make it extra environment friendly, with USB knowledge tunneling able to exceeding 20 Gbps.
One of many key updates within the transfer to assist DisplayPort 2.1 tunneling pertains to the utmost complete 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. Typically, a USB4 hyperlink makes use of two bonded high-speed differential signaling pairs to transmit and obtain knowledge, permitting for 40 Gbps duplex operation (40 Gbps transmit and 40 Gbps obtain) within the symmetric case. Nevertheless, 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 knowledge charges because of PAM3, this will 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 accessible 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 brand tips have been issued for consumer-facing gear.
Thunderbolt has seen unbelievable momentum over the past couple of years – triggered primarily by the combination of Thunderbolt controllers contained in the high-volume pocket book processors beginning with Ice Lake. The mix of information, video, and energy supply in a single port / cable makes it helpful to a bunch of use-cases. Particularly, the rising recognition of hybrid work / hot-desking (displays / networking and so on. behind a dock, permitting a number of staff to simply plug of their Thunderbolt-equipped techniques at totally different instances) has additionally served as a fillip to Thunderbolt adoption within the enterprise / workplace area. Avid gamers and content material creators have an unbelievable thirst for I/O bandwidth that’s served effectively by Thunderbolt.
As talked about earlier, Subsequent Technology Thunderbolt takes the USB4 v2 specs as baseline and makes the entire enticing non-obligatory options into necessary 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 necessary 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 without doubt one of the most enjoyable options of USB4 v2 that’s certain to be accessible in techniques outfitted with the Subsequent Technology 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 Kind-C cables fork off, one ostensibly to the show, and one other to a dock (system) with a SSD hooked up.
Features resembling energy supply limits (Thunderbolt 3 / 4 assist as much as 15W by default) for the Subsequent-Technology Thunderbolt ports might be clarified within the close to future. Intel didn’t present any info associated to market availability.
Based mostly on a look via the USB4 v2 specs and Intel’s description of Subsequent-Technology Thunderbolt, it’s clear that Thunderbolt ports will proceed to stay the Kind-C port that does all of it.