Big companies are pushing USB Type-C, Apple has quickly adopted it as the sole port on the new Macbook and Google has followed suit with the Chromebook Pixel, but now Intel has seen the potential as the next generation of Thunderbolt is going to use USB Type-C as the base point for the port. The initial plan with USB Type-C when it was first introduced just under a year ago was to support extra protocols such as DisplayPort, HDMI and other connections in one port. Thunderbolt 3 looks and feels like USB Type-C at the physical layer, but the performance and technology is all Thunderbolt with a faster transfer speed of 40Gbps, Thunderbolt 2 had a maximum transfer speed of 20Gbps and this isn’t possible by using USB Type-C as the signalling connections are different, but they work with each other.
To achieve this new speed, Intel has had to redesign the entire signalling layers, as well as the physical layer i.e. the connector.
Thunderbolt is going to ship later this year bringing the technology to more people than Mac and a few Windows users as the port is the same as USB Type-C. Not only wittily this make plugging devices into computers easier, Thunderbolt 3 is twice as fast as Thunderbolt 2 – offering 40Gbps transfer over Thunderbolt, 10Gbps over USB 3.1 and DisplayPort 1.2. Thunderbolt 3 can also support 4K 60Hz displays.
Thunderbolt also has support for PCIe 3.0, HDMI 2.0, DisplayPort 1.3 and other connections. But as it looks, we seem to be moving towards USB Type-C as the standard for all ports, but one of the best things about Thunderbolt 3 is that the port will actually work with normal USB connections.
Thunderbolt 3 is arriving later this year.