Intel has announced the latest version of the Thunderbolt standard and this time it gets interesting. Thunderbolt 3 uses the reversible USB-C connector but enables much, much faster speeds. A single cable can drive two 4K monitors running at 60Hz.
Thunderbolt 3 uses USB-C connector
The latest USB 3.1 standard has transfer speeds of 10 Gbps. Thunderbolt 3 can do 40 Gbps using the same USB-C port. You know, the new one that is reversible, making it much easier to plug in cables. This is possible because Thunderbolt integrates a chip in both ends of the cable, making it faster (but also more expensive).
Thunderbolt 3 is for professional users or demanding consumers. The 40 Gbps transfer rate will allow it to transfer a 4K movie in less than 30 seconds. You can connect two 4K displays (4096x2160 at 60 Hz & 30-bit colors) with one cable, and daisy-chain up to 6 devices.
It supports 5K monitors at 60 Hz on a single cable. It can also charge a notebook, delivering up to 100W on a single cable. It even lets you connect two devices peer-to-peer via one cable.
Thunderbolt 3 will allow you to connect monitors and TVs that use DVI, HDMI, VGA and DisplayPort via adapters. Thunderbolt 3 is also backwards compatible with Thunderbolt 1 and 2 via an adaptor.
Apple has been a major supporter of Thunderbolt since the beginning. Unsurprisingly, no details were provided regarding Apple’s future plan but Intel did use an illustration of a Macbook in its announcement.
Intel says that the first products with Thunderbolt 3 will begin shipping this year. The cable and port will look exactly like an USB cable so look for the small thunderbolt logo.