Intel announces Thunderbolt 3: twice the speed, USB Type-C connector

Even though USB Type-C looks to be the new standard, Intel wants to keep Thunderbolt alive with the announcement of Thunderbolt 3.

The new version of Thunderbolt brings a lot of improvements, not least it is designed to work with USB Type-C ports. That means the new 12-inch MacBook and future Android devices—supported on Android M—will be able to utilise the power of Thunderbolt 3.

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Apart from the switch to the open standard connector, Thunderbolt 3 brings bags of new features, including:

  • Double the speeds to 40Gbps
  • Ability to run two 4K monitors
  • Extra wattage for faster charging
  • Networking features for enterprise (Peer-to-peer, Bridging)
  • Passive, Active and Optical cable specifications

Even though Thunderbolt has always been a rather underwhelming platform in terms of support, Intel and Apple’s continued focus on pushing the connector to customers and enterprise has lead to some excellent advances in the industry.

The new inclusion of the USB Type-C (USB 3.1) support might make the Thunderbolt connector more welcoming on mobile and desktop, although it is unlikely to see early support as companies rally behind typical USB Type-C platforms.

Intel should be able to fully hold onto its partnership with Apple, considering the new 12-inch MacBook (and any future MacBooks) are unlikely to support Thunderbolt, but highly likely to support USB Type-C.