Intel announces Thunderbolt 5 with support for 120 Gbps and 560Hz

Mike Wheatley

Intel Corp has announced the specifications of a new Thunderbolt 5 interface standard that exceeds the bandwidth of Thunderbolt 4 by three-times.


Thunderbolt 5 still relies on the USB-C connector and is backwards compatible with earlier standards, yet despite this it can now support up to 120Gb data transfer speeds. According to Intel, this will be the case even for existing passive cables of up to 1 metre in length, though it plans to introduce a new certification program to make compatibility clearer to consumers.

The new interface uses four 40Gbps lanes, with two acting as transmitters and two are receivers, providing a default 80Gbps bi-directional bandwidth. With some next-generation monitors, users will be able to boost bandwidth even more by converting one of the receiver lanes into a transmitter lane, delivering up to 120Gbps video bandwidth, three times faster than Thunderbolt 4.

Intel’s GM of Client Connectivity Jason Ziller promised Thunderbolt 5 will deliver “industry-leading performance” when connecting computers to monitors, storage, docks and more. “Thunderbolt is now the mainstream port for connectivity on mobile PCs, and delivering the next generation of performance with Thunderbolt 5 will provide even more capability for the most demanding users,” he added.

Intel said Thunderbolt 5 will enable multiple 8K monitors to be connected, in addition to three 4K monitors with refresh rates of 144Hz. All told, it can support a maximum of 560Hz for video gamers.

Thunderbolt 5 may even be able to support extreme combinations of refresh rate and resolution, depending on the video parameters. This is a reference to PC signals that often use much greater bandwidth than video signals.

It’s notable that Thunderbolt 5’s support for 120Gbps of bandwidth dwarfs that of HDMI 2.1, which maxes out at just 48Gbps. However, there are some big differences between PCs and games consoles, and there is no sign of the TV industry switching USB and Thunderbolt anytime soon. In other words, Thunderbolt 5 is clearly a PC specification.


Intel said that as well as ultra-fast data transfer speeds, Thunderbolt 5 will also support rapid charging for those who want to connect a device to their PC. The company said Thunderbolt 5’s increased bandwidth can also support external GPUs.

The first PCs and accessories fitted with the Thunderbolt 5 interface are expected to appear next year, Intel said.