Apple silicon Macs will continue to support Thunderbolt

16-inch MacBook Pro Ports
16-inch MacBook Pro Ports (Image credit: Rene Ritchie / iMore)

What you need to know

  • Apple confirms that it will continue to support Thunderbolt in Apple Silicon Macs.
  • This means Macs will support Thunderbolt 4.
  • Thunderbolt 4 was unveiled by Intel earlier today.

There has been some speculation as to whether new Macs with Apple Silicon will move away from Thunderbolt 3 and instead support the USB 4 standard (which, to be clear, is compatible with Thunderbolt 3 devices). As tweeted from Apple analyst Rene Ritchie, Apple confirmed today that it will continue to support Thunderbolt.

Over a decade ago, Apple partnered with Intel to design and develop Thunderbolt, and today our customers enjoy the speed and flexibility it brings to every Mac. We remain committed to the future of Thunderbolt and will support it in Macs with Apple silicon.

Earlier today, Intel announced details about Thunderbolt 4, which likely prompted Apple to clarify its position on Thunderbolt and its relationship with Intel, even though it will be producing its own chipsets for Macs in the future.

Thunderbolt 4 supports 40Gb/s data transfer, can be used with three downstream ports to share bandwidth, and is capable of supporting two 4K monitors or one 8K panel. It will continue to use the same USB-C design port and will be compatible with USB-C and USB 4.

Intel is also adding Direct Memory Access protection for vendors to get certification for Thunderbolt 4, and Intel's slide deck from the briefing mentions that it needs Intel VT-d tech. Intel has clarified that Thunderbolt certification will be available for machines that do not feature Intel silicon, so for now, we'll have to wait and see how DMA protection will be implemented by other vendors.

Lory Gil

Lory is a renaissance woman, writing news, reviews, and how-to guides for iMore. She also fancies herself a bit of a rock star in her town and spends too much time reading comic books.  If she's not typing away at her keyboard, you can probably find her at Disneyland or watching Star Wars (or both).