Apple Silicon Macs will support Thunderbolt connection, according to Apple’s latest announcement.
As TheVerge reported, Apple has confirmed that the tech giant is working on Macs that use its custom Apple-designed Apple Silicon chips instead of Intel chips, but Apple has committed that it’ll support Thunderbolt Intel’s Thunderbolt USB-C connectivity standard on new Apple silicon computers, despite the lack of Intel processors.
Previously, Apple announced the transition from ROM Intel processors to its own ARM chips, which the company calls “Apple Silicon”. With the big change to the Mac lineup coming later this year, users were concerned whether these new Mac models will be compatible with Thunderbolt devices — which is a hardware interface developed by Intel in collaboration with Apple.
In a statement, an Apple spokesperson said that Apple’s upcoming machines will offer support for Intel’s Thunderbolt USB-C standard.
Despite that collaboration with Intel to develop the original Thunderbolt standard, though, Apple has yet to offer Thunderbolt support on any products outside of Intel-powered Macs — Apple’s ARM-based iPad Pro, in particular, stands out as featuring a regular USB-C port, not a Thunderbolt 3 connector. Apple’s ARM-based Developer Transition Kit also only features standard USB-C ports.
The news comes as Intel detailed its upcoming Thunderbolt 4 standard, which will be based on the USB4 spec standard and which uses the same USB-C connector that Thunderbolt 3 already does today. Both Thunderbolt 3 and Thunderbolt 4 offer more guaranteed features (like the ability to power external monitors, or charge laptops) compared to the standard USB 3 and USB4 standards that they’re built off of, and offer a consistency that regular USB-C standards can often be sorely lacking in.
Thunderbolt 4, in particular, offers the same 40 Gbps speeds that Thunderbolt 3 had offered but adds even stricter hardware requirements for manufacturers: devices will have to be able to support either two 4K displays or one 8K display and allow for PCIe data transfer speeds of up to 32 Gbps — which should be a boon for external storage and external GPUs.
Apple at WWDC unveiled its plans for Macs equipped with Apple Silicon chips, the first of which is set to come out before the end of 2020. Apple eventually plans to transition all of its Macs to Apple Silicon, a process that the company says will take two years.
According to Apple, Apple Silicon will bring a new level of performance with more powerful Macs that are also more energy efficient with better battery life.