Today, Intel announced the next revision to Thunderbolt, aptly entitled Thunderbolt 3. While it’s no surprise that the revision brings increased bandwidth (40Gbps vs 20Gbps) to the specification, the biggest news is the adoption of the new USB Type-C connector.
Instead of using Mini DisplayPort, which Thunderbolt has used since its inception, Intel is “skating where the puck is headed” and jumping to USB Type-C. This presents many potential benefits to the end user.
For starters, USB Type-C will likely be more widely adopted than Mini DisplayPort ever was. So we’ll see more peripherals and more hardware that supports the spec. Two of the industry’s biggest players, Apple and Google, already have products available for purchase that use USB Type-C, and I see this trend continuing.
What does this all mean for those of us who have already adopted plenty of Thunderbolt and Thunderbolt 2 devices and cables. At the least, there will be an inconvenience. We’ll no doubt see adapter dongles to bring support for legacy connectors, but that’s never an ideal situation.
But that inconvenience will be well worth it in the end. Thunderbolt 3 will support all sorts of peripherals, displays, even 4K and 5K displays. It will also support up to 100 watts of power, which means that in theory, you could have a single docking station with a single cable that handles absolutely everything. That’s downright amazing. Think about this for a second. A single cable that support everything you do. I personally can’t wait.
Benefits of Thunderbolt 3
- Uses USB Type-C
- 40Gbps bandwidth
- Half the power consumption
- Supports up to 100 watts of power
- Can support two 4K displays or one 5K display
- Supports PCIe 3.0, HDMI 2.0, and DisplayPort 1.3 (4K and 5K resolutions at 60Hz)
USB Type-C is the future. Apple has bet on it, Google has bet on it, and now Intel is betting on it. This is great news for consumers, as it means less confusing ports, and more potential compatibility. This means that you’ll be able to plug in your Thunderbolt 3 cables and your USB cables into the same port. You’ll just need to look for the Thunderbolt logo on the cables to be able to differentiate them from USB.
Thunderbolt 3 is slated to begin shipping closer to the end of 2015. What do you think? Are you excited about the changes?