Index > Knowledge > Comparing USB 4.0 and Thunderbolt 4: Features, Differences, and Impact on Device Connectivity

Comparing USB 4.0 and Thunderbolt 4: Features, Differences, and Impact on Device Connectivity

 

USB 4.0 and Thunderbolt 4 represent the forefront of current data transmission technologies, both utilizing the versatile USB-C connector format. They deliver impressive data transfer rates up to 40 Gbps, enable display outputs via the DisplayPort protocol, and facilitate device charging and power delivery up to 100 watts. Here’s a closer examination of their similarities and differences:

 

 

Similarities:

 

- Utilization of the USB-C connector for physical connection.

 

- Capability to support data transfer speeds reaching up to 40 Gbps.

 

- Provision for monitor output adhering to the DisplayPort protocol.

 

- Support for power delivery (PD), capable of delivering up to 100 watts for powering and charging devices.

 

 

Differences in Specifications and Certification:

 

- Thunderbolt 4 mandates a minimum data transfer speed of 40 Gbps and a minimum power delivery of 15 watts, ensuring uniform performance across devices.

 

- USB 4.0, on the other hand, sets a lower threshold with a minimum data transfer speed of 20 Gbps and a power supply capability of 7.5 watts, leading to variability in performance and functionality among devices.

 

- Thunderbolt 4 devices undergo a certification process by Intel to earn the Thunderbolt brand, emphasizing its standardized high performance.

 

- USB 4 is developed under the auspices of the USB Implementers Forum (USB-IF) and does not require such certification, making it a more open and versatile standard.

 

Additional Functional Differences:

 

- Thunderbolt 4 supports daisy-chaining up to six devices, enhancing connectivity options, while USB 4.0 is limited to connecting a maximum of two devices.

 

- The licensing fee for Thunderbolt 4 is higher, and it is typically found on premium devices. Conversely, USB 4's broader adoption supports a wider array of devices.

 

- Unique to Thunderbolt 4 is the support for the PCIe protocol, allowing connections to external graphics cards and other PCIe devices, further distinguishing it in terms of capability.

 

In summary, Thunderbolt 4 acts as an advanced version of USB 4.0, offering faster and more consistent performance, mandatory certification, and exclusive features like multi-device daisy-chaining and PCIe support. These factors make Thunderbolt 4 more common in high-end devices, while USB 4's broader acceptance ensures its presence in a wide range of devices.

 

The following table summarizes the main differences between USB 4.0 and Thunderbolt 4:

 

Features

USB 4.0

Thunderbolt 4

Minimum data transfer speed

20 Gbps

40 Gbps

Minimum power supply

7.5 Watt

15 Watt

Certification requirements

NONE

Intel certification required

Support PD power supply

YES

YES

Daisy chain connection

2 MAX.

UP TO 6

Support PCIe

NO

YES

License fee

NONE

YES

Popularity

HIGHER

LOWER

Developed by

USB-IF

Intel

 

Note: Selecting the Optimal Transmission Technology:

 

For those prioritizing peak performance and willing to invest in superior transmission capabilities, Thunderbolt 4 emerges as the prime choice. It excels with its rapid data transfer rates, enhanced functionalities, and superior device connectivity options. Conversely, for users with fundamental data transfer needs, USB 4.0 presents a cost-effective alternative. While it shares core features with Thunderbolt 4, it remains more accessible pricewise.

 


2024-04-22
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