UPDATE: Since this story was first published, OWC reached out to l et us know that the OWC Thunderbolt Hub comes with a 110-Watt power adapter.
OWC has announced what seems to be the world's first Thunderbolt 4 docking hub. The OWC Thunderbolt Hub isn't meant to add a variety of ports to a Thunderbolt 4-enabled PC, instead adding more Thunderbolt ports that you can use to connect various high-performance peripherals.
Intel's latest Thunderbolt 4 interface provides a similar 40 Gb/s bandwidth and general feature set as Titan Ridge-based Thunderbolt 3. Still, the implementation requirements for Thunderbolt 4 are much stricter, so users buying a PC with a TB4 connector are guaranteed to get everything advertised. The current implementation of Thunderbolt 4 in Intel's Tiger Lake processors enables PC makers to offer only one such port per system, which is not enough for those who use Thunderbolt devices. To get more Thunderbolt ports, owners of the latest laptops will need a hub, and OWC is the first well-known maker to announce one.
The OWC Thunderbolt Hub has one Thunderbolt 4 port to connect to its host (at 40 Gb/s), three Thunderbolt USB-C ports to connect three other Thunderbolt devices or even three independent chains of Thunderbolt devices, a USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A connector, and a 20V/5.5A DC-IN port. The hub can deliver up to 60W of power to its host, 15W of power to each of the Thunderbolt 4 ports, and up to 5W to its USB-A connector.
OWC does not disclose which controller it uses for its Thunderbolt Hub, but since Intel has only one Thunderbolt 4 controller for accessories — the JHL8440 — it is reasonable to assume that OWC uses this very chip. In this case, the Intel JHL8440 mainly acts like a switch that splits one Thunderbolt 4 interface into three independent Thunderbolt USB-C branches that can daisy-chain multiple devices. For example, you can connect an external graphics card to one port and a chain of external high-performance storage devices to another to ensure that graphics and storage do not interrupt each other (assuming that the JHL8440 switches everything properly). Meanwhile, you can plug things like a keyboard into the USB Type-A port.
OWC’s Thunderbolt Hub is currently available for pre-order at $149 and ships in late October, you might be able to find an OWC promo code. The company includes a 0.7-meter Thunderbolt cable in the box, but there is no word about the charger.
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Anton Shilov is a Freelance News Writer at Tom’s Hardware US. Over the past couple of decades, he has covered everything from CPUs and GPUs to supercomputers and from modern process technologies and latest fab tools to high-tech industry trends.