USB4 and Thunderbolt on AMD

Looking at a Framework 13 or 16. I see you can add 4x USB4 ports, but it’s not clear what they actually support.

USB4 is supposed to support Thunderbolt at up to 40Mbps. Do these ports support that on AMD machines? Is it directly attached to the CPU or via the chipset?


The 13" AMD version supports “USB4/DP for upper left and right slots, USB 3.2/DP for lower left slot and USB 3.2 only for lower right slot” (plus power delivery on all ports).

The 13" Intel version supports 4 USB4/Thunderbolt/PD slots.

There’s not much known about the 16" yet.


Thanks. So the AMD version doesn’t support Thunderbolt at all?

That’s a massive fail. Rules it out for workstation/desktop replacement use.

Hopefully the 16" isn’t crippled in the same way.

Thunderbolt4 is an Intel certification. It’s USB4 with all options enabled, Intel testing and licensing fees paid to Intel.

It’s very rare for AMD boards to have Thunderbolt, and this is not just Framework.

If you require Thunderbolt certification, get the Intel board - the 12th gen already has it and the 13th will. The AMD boards with USB4 and all options enabled will comply with Thunderbolt but won’t have the Thunderbolt certification.


I’ll also note that the difference in functionality between ports is caused by a limitation of the AMD chip, not Framework. The APU itself just does not support 4x USB4 ports.


Many other Ryzen laptops have Thunderbolt with USB4.

The 7000 series parts support it natively, otherwise has to be via a separate chip which is why I asked.

Lenovo has been shipping ThinkPads with Ryzen and USB 4/TB for nearly two years now. It’s a shame Framework can’t because it’s kind if hard to justify buying a laptop in 2023 without that expansion option. Even budget Intel laptops have it. Just a shame Intel CPUs are inefficient and run hot.

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There are a lot of amd laptops where thunderbolt works but I don’t know of any that actually have thunderbolt.

Thunderbolt4 is full featured USB4 (like the top 2 ports of the amd framweork) AND and intel certification. So you can have the functionality without actually being called thunderbolt

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Ah, okay. The terminology for USB 4 with TB support is very poor, because TB alternative mode is not mandatory. I see you are calling it “full featured” USB 4, while I was trying to be explicit about what specific feature I want.

FWIW there is a lot of stuff that USB 4 can support, like analogue audio and HDMI. It can also be 20 or 40Mbps. So “full featured” is not very clear.

Is it 40Mbps and directly connected to the CPU?

The configurator let’s you add 4x USB 4 ports, but it sounds like you would actually get 2x USB 4 and 2x USB 3.2.

A shame the two USB 4 ports are on opposite sides too, but I guess if they weren’t then some people would want them on the other side.

The other missing piece of the puzzle is a dock with power button. There is no standard for power buttons yet, it’s manufacturer specific. So unless Framework offer one you won’t be able to turn it on without opening the lid.

Full Featured means everything, essentially tb4 without the cert (40gbit transport, pcie tunneling, tb3 alt mode, 20Gbit usb3.2).

Analog audio and HDMI are usb-c alt modes and not part of USB4 or Thunderbolt for that matter, only DP alt mode is required for usb4 (though dp can be converted to HDMI passively, like what the hdmi expansion card does), the actual HDMI alt mode is quite rare and pretty stupid when you can just do DP and anlog audio is mostly a phone thing and most of those don’t even do that.

The amd chipset (inside the cpu/apu/whatever you want to call it) in the 7040 series chips has 2 full featured usb4 ports with a dedicated 40Gbit link to the cpu for each (they need some external circuitry like re-drivers and stuff so if you don’t hook them up you don’t get USB4). The intel cpus framework uses have 4 full featured usb4 ports sharing 2 40gbit links to the cpu (in the case of framework each side shares 40Gbit).

The product page spells out the port capabilities pretty clearly, top left and right are full featured USB4, bottom left is usb3.2 + DP and bottom right is just usb3.2. DOes the configurator actually call them usb4? Thought the cards were just called type-c.

What do you need 2 USB4 ports on one side for? Having the option to plug a full dock/egpu/whatever on either side is more flexible than being able to plug in 2 on one side. Given the limitations I think the layout they chose is probably the least bad option but I hope they’ll communicate the capabilities better or we will drown in questions like this once they actually come out. Pretty much the only upside of the intel version is having homogenous ports (even if they have to share bandwisth per side).

Given most manufacturers don’t even use both the USB4 ports in the amd chips I doubt they’ll increase them anytime soon but I would love it if they did.

Wake from usb is a thing but you probably should not run it with the lid closed because of the way the cooling works.


Here is a screenshot of the configurator:

It says “supporting USB4, 20V/5A charging, and DisplayPort Alt Mode”. Should be clearer if only two supporting USB4 are available, and only one of the bottom ports supports DP.

Most manufacturers organize the page as one entry for each slot, with each slot only showing the options that are compatible with it and their actual capabilities.

As for why you would want two on the same side, so that you can easily plug them both in when docked. You might only need one port for docking, but having two gives you more high bandwidth device options. With faster ethernet, high speed storage, and potentially multiple 4k DP streams, one 40Gbps port can become a bottleneck. A single 4k 10bit 60Hz display is 15Gbps. That’s raw data, with encoding and protocol overhead a 20Gbps link is required to support it. I run two montiors.

If the Intel version shares bandwidth on each side then I guess you could use one just for a DP chain for two monitors, assuming that the DP bandwidth is entirely separate if used in alt mode rather than tunnelled over Thunderbolt to a dock.

Wake from USB only seems to work with sleep mode on most machines. Every laptop I’ve looked at (and desktop for that matter) can’t wake from the off state via a USB device (excluding proprietary docks).

It’s a bit worrying that the Framework has issues with cooling when the lid is shut. For a workstation machine it’s not uncommon to have the laptop closed when docked. You can get a bracket/shelf to mount it under your desk, or a stand to hold it vertical. Pretty much zero space taken up that way.

That said, from the pictures and NotebookCheck’s review, it seems that it draws air in from the bottom and exhausts it out the back, so it looks like it would be fine with the lid shut. Under desk or vertical the bottom intake has unobstructed free air to draw from.

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Agreed, They’ll need to make that very clear or there will be confusion.

In most cases you’ll really need to dig to find out what the ports can actually do, and that is without modular ports. USB-C is a huge mess in the consumer market, technologically it’s amazing but thanks to the huge flexibility and bad branding you have to really search to know what you get. I had a yoga that said it had thunderbolt on the product page but it didn’t actually have tb, not even disabled or something, didn’t even heave the chips on the board.

The amd has displayport on the bottom left port too, so I don’t really see how that’s different in that scenario.

It is unlikely to have two controllers on the same side of the board. Even the Intel’s controller per side i.e. same available bandwidth 40Gbps split between two ports per side.

There are a few Thinkpads with two full bandwidth ports. Some of the Intel Thinkpads have two 40Gbps ports on the same side, like the X1.

Actually the Z13 and Z16 (both AMD) have two on the same side, although they are both 20Gbps due to them being driven from separate chips and the 6000 series CPU lacking native support.

the confusion clears up a bit if you know that the USB-C expansion card is just a pass-through card, so when it says it supports those specs, it means that it supports UP TO those specs, but the ports that you plug them into also need to support said specs. (yes, framework could indicate this better)

So the ports themselves are exactly the same it’s just the certification because one is AMD and the other is Intel?

Is it possible to have one Thunderbolt port on the AMD via firmware with the rest slower to address bandwidth concerns?

You already get 2 “Thunderbolt” ports on the amd, just without the cert, and each of them allready has a dedicated 40gbit uplink so I don’t really uderstand what you are asking.

The rest aren’t slowed down by firmware, they are straight up different ports.


Depends on what you mean by Thunderbolt. Thunderbolt has been absorbed into USB4, so if you have a proper full-featured USB4 socket, it will be Thunderbolt compatible, i.e. support eGPUs, PCIe tunnel and so on. Depending on if it’s certified by Intel, it may or may not be called Thunderbolt.

The two USB4 slots on the back of the AMD model will have more or less the same capabilities as the 4 USB/Thunderbolt slots of the Intel models. Only the front slots have restrictions.

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So the AMD version should support any TB dock?
I’m thinking of getting the CalDigit TS4

Compatibility TBD, but most docks seem to work on other Ryzen laptops.

Will probably work, but without being able to test it, there’s no guarantee that every function works.

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