Apple’s Arm-Based Macs With Apple Silicon Chips Will Support Thunderbolt

Apple is working on Macs that use its custom Apple-designed Apple Silicon chips instead of Intel chips, but Apple has committed to continuing to support Thunderbolt, reports The Verge.


In a statement, an Apple spokesperson said that Apple’s upcoming machines will offer support for Intel’s Thunderbolt USB-C standard.

“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.”

Apple at WWDC unveiled its plans for Macs equipped with ‌Apple Silicon‌ chips, the first of which is set to come out before the end of 2020. Apple eventually plans to transition all of its Macs to ‌Apple Silicon‌, a process that the company says will take two years.

According to Apple, ‌Apple Silicon‌ will bring a new level of performance with more powerful Macs that are also more energy efficient with better battery life.

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Intel Shares Details on Thunderbolt 4, Launching Later This Year

Intel today shared some new details on the upcoming launch of Thunderbolt 4, which is set debut later this year.


While Thunderbolt 4 won’t deliver any increase over the maximum 40 Gb/s available on Thunderbolt 3, there are some notable improvements such as universal cables up to two meters long without needing to resort to active cables that omit support for slower USB standards as on Thunderbolt 3, the ability to support docks and other accessories with up to four Thunderbolt 4 ports (one upstream, three downstream), and more.

Thunderbolt 4 certification requirements include:

  • Double the minimum video and data requirements of Thunderbolt 3.
    • Video: Support for two 4K displays or one 8K display.
    • Data: PCIe at 32 Gbps for storage speeds up to 3,000 MBps.
  • Support for docks with up to four Thunderbolt 4 ports.
  • PC charging on at least one computer port.
  • Wake your computer from sleep by touching the keyboard or mouse when connected to a Thunderbolt dock.
  • Required Intel VT-d-based direct memory access (DMA) protection that helps prevent physical DMA attacks.

Thunderbolt 4 ports and cables are fully backward and cross-compatible with USB4, Thunderbolt 3, and other USB standards, and it continues to use the USB-C physical connector design.


Thunderbolt 4 will be coming first to Intel’s upcoming Tiger Lake processors for notebooks, with separate 8000-series controller chips coming later this year.

Apple, of course, has just announced that it will be transitioning away from Intel processors to its own Apple Silicon chips across its Mac lineup over the next couple of years, and it remains to be seen how Apple will handle Thunderbolt support going forward. The A12Z-based Mac mini units Apple is distributing to developers to help them prepare their apps for the transition do not include any Thunderbolt 3 ports.

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Belkin Debuts New Compact ‘Dual Power’ Thunderbolt 3 Dock Core

Belkin today introduced the Thunderbolt 3 Dock Core, a “dual power” dock option that supports passthrough power from a laptop to connected devices, so a separate power cable is not required.


Belkin says the Dock Core is aimed at those who are looking for fast transfer rates and a one-cable solution for connecting laptops to peripherals.


Designed for both Mac and Windows machines, Thunderbolt 3 Dock Core offers a compact form factor ideal for desktop use along with 40Gb/s transfer rates, 60W power upstream charging, and support for one 8K monitor or two 4K monitors at 60Hz.

There’s a tethered Thunderbolt 3 cable to connect to a Thunderbolt 3 laptop, a USB-C PD power, a DisplayPort 1.4 port, one HDMI 2.0 port, one 1Gb Ethernet port, Audio In/Out ports, a USB-A 3.2 Gen 2 (10Gb/s port) and a USB-A 2.0 port.

When connected to a laptop, the Dock Core is able to power connected peripheral devices without the need for a separate power cable. The laptop can be kept charged by connecting its existing power supply to the USB-C PD port on the Thunderbolt dock.

“Belkin’s Thunderbolt 3 docks and adapters are perfect for remote workers, be it from the home, an RV beach vacation or a hotel room. They transform mobile devices into high productivity centers on-the-go,” said Jon Roepke, director of product management, Belkin. “They easily connect a USB-C laptop to virtually all common peripherals like displays, projectors, external hard drives, ethernet and speakers, so they can get to work quickly and easily without needing to be their own IT department. With one cable from the laptop, these docks are a clutter-free alternative to a tangled nest of cables on the desktop or dining room table now serving as an office. And since it’s dual-power – the dock can draw power directly from the laptop instead of from the wall outlet – there’s one less cable to worry about.”

Belkin’s Thunderbolt 3 Dock Core will be available for purchase in July 2020 from the Belkin website and retailers like Amazon. It is priced at $170.

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OWC Announces First Thunderbolt 3 Certified Bus-Powered Storage Enclosure

OWC today introduced the Envoy Express, which it describes as the first Thunderbolt 3 certified bus-powered storage enclosure for Macs and PCs.



Designed to support any 2280 M.2 NVMe SSD, the key benefit of the Envoy Express is that users can install their own drive in it, including OWC’s Aura SSDs with up to 4TB of storage or larger-capacity options in the future.

The Envoy Express supports sustained data transfer rates of up to 1553 MB/s and has an integrated 10.2-inch Thunderbolt 3 cable.

The Envoy Express can be pre-ordered on OWC’s website now for $68.

Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with OWC. When you click a link and make a purchase, we may receive a small payment, which helps us keep the site running.

Tags: Thunderbolt 3, OWC

This article, “OWC Announces First Thunderbolt 3 Certified Bus-Powered Storage Enclosure” first appeared on MacRumors.com

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Apple Begins Selling Standalone 2-Meter Thunderbolt 3 Pro Cable for $129

Apple has quietly started selling its 2-meter Thunderbolt 3 cable priced at $129, offering a braided design and active cable technology that supports full Thunderbolt 3 data transfer speeds of up to 40Gb/s. This marks the first time the cable has been available as a standalone purchase, as it is otherwise only available included with the Pro Display XDR.

Featuring a black braided design that coils without tangling, this 2-meter cable supports Thunderbolt 3 data transfer up to 40Gb/s, USB 3.1 Gen 2 data transfer up to 10Gb/s, DisplayPort video output (HBR3), and charging up to 100W. Use this cable to connect a Mac with Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) to Thunderbolt 3 devices such as Pro Display XDR, docks, and hard drives.

Passive Thunderbolt 3 cables like Apple’s standard version are limited to shorter lengths of less than a meter, as they are unable to maintain maximum speeds over longer lengths. Active electronics in the cable connectors are required for longer-length cables, which adds significantly to the cost. Even so, Apple’s Thunderbolt 3 Pro Cable carries a price premium over many other active cables, including an $80 Belkin one also carried by Apple.

Lengths beyond two or three meters require optical cables that are even more expensive, and optical Thunderbolt 3 cables are only just now starting to come to market with prices starting at several hundred dollars.

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Thunderbolt flaws open millions of PCs to physical hacking – 10 minute mail

A new attack method enables bad actors to access data on a locked computer via an evil maid attack within 5 minutes

Millions of computers sporting Intel’s Thunderbolt ports are open to hands-on hacking attempts due to vulnerabilities in this hardware interface, according to research by Björn Ruytenberg, a security researcher at Eindhoven University of Technology in The Netherlands. Dubbed Thunderspy, the attack method affects Thunderbolt-equipped machines manufactured between 2011 and 2020 and is a concern with machines running any of the three major operating systems – Windows, Linux and, to a lesser extent, macOS.

To snatch data from a PC through a so-called evil maid attack, all a bad actor would need is a few minutes, physical access to the device, and some off-the-shelf equipment. “All the evil maid needs to do is unscrew the backplate, attach a device momentarily, reprogram the firmware, reattach the backplate, and the evil maid gets full access to the laptop,” Ruytenberg told Wired, adding that the whole process could be managed within five minutes. A total of 7 vulnerabilities were found to affect Thunderbolt versions 1 through 3 and they’re all listed out in detail in the research paper.

The attack method works even if you follow cybersecurity best practices, such as locking your computer when stepping out for a moment and using strong passwords and measures such as full disk encryption. Above all, the attack leaves no traces.

As a proof of concept, Ruytenberg developed a firmware patching toolkit called Thunderbolt Controller Firmware Patcher (tcfp), which allows him to disable Thunderbolt security without accessing the machine’s BIOS or operating system. Since all of this takes place covertly and the changes aren’t reflected in BIOS, the victim remains none the wiser.

Ruytenberg also developed another tool, called SPIblock. Using it in tandem with tfcp, he managed to disable Thunderbolt security for good and block all future firmware updates, all the while remaining undetected.

Thunderbolt security was also in the limelight last year, when a team of researchers was able to uncover a collection of vulnerabilities they named Thunderclap. Fortunately, those could be mitigated by security options, called “Security Levels”, that were already available at the time.

Not so much with Thunderspy, as this attack method circumvents these security settings. On the other hand, what does guard against it is Kernel Direct Memory Access (DMA) protection that was introduced in 2019, as Intel states in its response to the published report.

Ruytenberg concludes that an update won’t be enough to fix the issue: “The Thunderspy vulnerabilities cannot be fixed in software, impact future standards such as USB 4 and Thunderbolt 4, and will require a silicon redesign.”

If you’re worried that your computer may be susceptible to an attack, you can use Spycheck, a tool specifically developed by the researcher to scan for Thunderspy vulnerabilities. To protect yourself, you shouldn’t leave your computer unattended while powered on even if you locked the screen; the same applies to your Thunderbolt peripherals. Ruytenberg also recommends disabling your Thunderbolt ports entirely in BIOS, which would render them inoperable but should keep you safe.



Amer Owaida


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New 13-Inch MacBook Pro With Four Thunderbolt 3 Ports is Compatible With Apple’s Pro Display XDR

Apple’s new 13-inch MacBook Pro models with four Thunderbolt 3 ports are compatible with its Pro Display XDR at full 6K resolution, according to updated tech specs for the display. The base model with two Thunderbolt 3 ports remains incapable of this.


Apple’s Pro Display XDR is a 32-inch 6K monitor with a P3 wide color gamut and true 10-bit color support, 1,600 nits of peak brightness, a 1,000,000:1 contrast ratio, and a super-wide, off-axis viewing angle. It is also compatible with the 2018 and later 15-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro, 2019 Mac Pro, 2019 iMac, and 2020 MacBook Air.

Apple updated the 13-inch MacBook Pro earlier today with a more reliable Magic Keyboard, up to 10th-generation Intel Core processor options, up to 32GB of RAM, up to 4TB of SSD storage, and more. Read our announcement coverage for more details.

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