Apple’s new Arm-powered Macs will still support the Thunderbolt USB-C connectivity standard the company worked to develop alongside Intel, according to a new quote from an Apple spokesperson published in The Verge.
“Over a decade ago, Apple partnered with Intel to design and develop Thunderbolt,” the spokesperson told The Verge. “We remain committed to the future of Thunderbolt and will support it in Macs with Apple silicon.”
On the surface, this isn’t too surprising. Apple’s MacBook Pro was among the first machines to have Thunderbolt ports, and Thunderbolt 3 currently remains the world’s fastest port with 40 Gbps of bandwidth.
But as The Verge notes, Apple also has yet to debut Thunderbolt on any of its products aside from its Intel-powered Macs, even those featuring other USB-C style connections, like the iPad Pro. And like Apple Silicon-based Mac will, those devices already use Apple’s own in-house chips.
It would be easy, then, to be nervous about Apple silicon’s support for the standard, especially since Intel released a preview of Thunderbolt 4’s features yesterday, meaning that the Thunderbolt space is already due for some big changes coming soon. But Apple has already pledged to continue support for its Intel-based Macs for “years to come,” even as it works to transition completely to Apple silicon within the next two years.
This is a positive for professionals who have already invested in the Thunderbolt ecosystem, including the recently released Apple Pro XDR Display, which only uses Thunderbolt 3. Those people also won't need to get rid of docks or other accessories should they use devices with Apple's Arm chips.
Apple CEO Tim Cook also stated during the Apple silicon reveal that “We have some new Intel-based Macs in the pipeline that we’re really excited about.” So it’s probably too soon to worry about Apple ditching helpful features just to further set itself apart from Intel. Even if the company does love its proprietary connections- looking at you, Lightning.
Thunderbolt 4 is Thunderbolt 3 (40Gb/s) and USB 4 - certified by Intel to ensure a complete implementation of both standards. So no big changes between 3 & 4, just a certification.