Clarification —

Company’s statement offers clarification in the wake of Intel’s announcement.


A man gives a presentation in front of an image of a late 20th century computer.

Enlarge / Tim Cook begins his announcement of Apple Silicon.

Macs with Apple silicon will still support Thunderbolt, according to Apple. The clarification came after Intel’s Thunderbolt 4 announcement led many to speculate that Macs without Intel CPUs would not have Thunderbolt ports.

Here’s Apple’s statement, which was provided to The Verge:

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 this week, Intel announced the minimum requirements for Thunderbolt 4 certification, as well as the features consumers can expect in Thunderbolt 4-ready devices and a timeline and details about the rollout of the first devices using the standard. It will first arrive later this year in laptops equipped with Intel’s Tiger Lake CPUs, and Intel is producing controller chips for computers and peripherals.

Since the initial talk about Thunderbolt 4 was all about machines with Intel chips, though, it raised a question about what ports new Apple silicon Macs will use, as those machines will by definition not have Intel CPUs.

We’ll have to wait and see exactly what it will look like in terms of chips on the board, but Apple has now said it will support Thunderbolt in Macs with Apple silicon, which are expected to also launch later this year.

Apple played a critical role in the initial development and marketing of Thunderbolt, and Thunderbolt is the primary (or even only) port in computers in the Mac product lines. That said, Apple has declined to include Thunderbolt ports in its other devices, like iPhones (which use a wholly proprietary port called Lightning) and the iPad Pro (which uses the now-industry-standard USB-C).

Thunderbolt 4 is closely tied to the new USB4 standard. Its specifications call for cross-compatibility with all generations of USB as well as Thunderbolt 3, support for wake-from-sleep on PCs connected to Thunderbolt docks, accessories with four Thunderbolt ports, and more.

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