Apple announced its plans to use its in-house ARM processors for future Mac PCs, during this year’s WWDC. This means that the company will stop using Intel’s offerings in its devices. The move brought some confusion on whether Macs will still support the Thunderbolt standard or not since that is owned by Intel.
The Cupertino giant, in a statement to The Verge, has clarified that it is “committed to the future of Thunderbolt” and that it will support the standard on Macs with Apple Silicon. The iPhone company originally built the standard with Intel, and began integrating it into its MacBook laptops as early as 2011. Recently, almost all of the firm’s laptop offerings come with Thunderbolt 3 ports.
Apple's complete statement reads:
“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”
None of Apple’s non-Intel offerings support the super-fast universal standard yet. The company added USB-C support with the 2018 iPad Pro models, finally ditching the Lightning port. However, those professional-grade devices too do not support the high-speed standard.
It is possible that with the move to Apple Silicon, the company might begin integrating the recently announced Thunderbolt 4 standard into its offerings. Intel also announced the Thunderbolt 4 series 8000 controllers for PC makers, adding that it expects to see PCs supporting the new protocol launch later this year. While this includes PCs that come with the next-generation Tiger Lake processors, the timeline also aligns with the promised ARM-powered Mac PCs that are slated to be announced before the end of the year.