Intel unveils Thunderbolt 3 with USB Type-C connector

Adam Westlake - Jun 2, 2015, 5:03am CDT
Intel unveils Thunderbolt 3 with USB Type-C connector

Intel has just introduced Thunderbolt 3, the latest generation of the connector, and did so with a curveball. In order to stay relevant amidst the ongoing popularity of USB and its new, reversible connectors, Thunderbolt 3 will feature both identical connectors and ports as USB Type-C. This means that computers, going forward, can rely on a single port for connecting both USB and Thunderbolt devices/accessories. So if Apple, for example, continues to make its notebooks thinner, they can continue with the trend of a single port that was introduced on the new Retina MacBooks.

While new Thunderbolt 3 cables will look and feel just like USB-C cables, they will still offer much greater data transfer speeds. Intel says Thunderbolt 3 offers a max of 40 Gbps, which trumps the 10 Gbps of USB 3.1, and is still double the speed of Thunderbolt 2. While a USB-C cable will be able to connect to the same ports, it won’t offer those new transfer speeds.

Intel unveils Thunderbolt 3 with USB Type-C connector

With the new ports, users will be able to connect up to two 4K displays. Intel notes that Thunderbolt and Thunderbolt 2 accessories and cable will still be compatible with Thunderbolt 3, however they will require an adapter. The company predicts the first Thunderbolt 3 peripherals to hit the market before the end of this year, becoming more common in 2016.

Now that Thunderbolt and USB have been unified, it appears Type-C ports will be here to stay for some time. But even though it simplifies the number and type of connectors our computers will have, there’s still a chance for confusion. The only thing to differentiate a Thunderbolt 3 cable from USB-C will be a small lightning logo on the end. Just be ready to keep track of which cable goes with which accessory.

SOURCE Intel/Thunderbolt

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