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Lovely new dongles and lusciously lengthy cables are Intel's new offerings

Thunderbolt 4.0 is nearly upon us and those are apparently its big selling points

Intel has revealed the specs for Thunderbolt 4.0 and spruiked its ability to power really impressive dongles connected by long cables.

That opening isn’t a nark job: it’s a recount of Intel’s ShinyHappy™ launch video that suggests the main virtue of the updated protocol is that it can now power docks that have four Thunderbolt ports aboard. The results can be quite impressive: the video demo shows one cable snaking out from a USB-C/Thunderbolt port into a dock, and then into a pair of 4K monitors and a solid state drive pushing data at up to 3,000 megabytes-per-second. Power for the dock and the laptop flow from another Thunderbolt cable.

And those cables can now reach two metres in length.

The caveat is that Thunderbolt 4.0 will only start to ship with Tiger Lake mobile CPUs due to ship sometime later in 2020. So you’ll need a whole new PC to take advantage of the update and probably new peripherals too because most older kit doesn’t offer USB-C ports or support Thunderbolt. Intel is good at ecosystem-building so peripheral-makers will be aboard on day one, but it will take a while for diverse options to emerge.

Remember, too, that Chipzilla’s last effort at changing the way we dock with the WiGig wireless standard utterly failed to excite buyers.

Which may be one reason that, as noted by market-watchers, NVIDIA’s market capitalisation on Wednesday surpassed Intel’s for the first time.

Intel's also announced the new 8000-series Thunderbolt controller for system-builders. ®

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