Intel has unveiled the next generation of Thunderbolt technology, enabling data transfer speeds of up to 40 Gbps. That means Thunderbolt 3 is twice as fast as Thunderbolt 2.

It also uses the same reversible USB-C connector as, well, other USB cables.

thunderbolt 3

That means that if you’ve got a device with a USB Type-C port that supports Thunderbolt, you get faster speeds. If the device just supports the standard USB 3.1 protocol, speeds top out at 10 Gbps. That’s still pretty fast… but not as fast as Thunderbolt 3.

The good news is that you don’t necessarily need to buy different cables for everything. It looks like USB-C is well on its way to becoming a widely adopted standard.

Not only can you connect external storage and peripheral devices like printers, mice, and optical disc drives with a USB Type-C connector. You can also connect displays or a power source.

Thunderbolt 3 takes things a step further, letting you connect a computer to two 4K displays, for example. If your laptop needs up to 100 watts of power, the Thunderbolt 3 cable will also be able to act as your power cable.

Thunderbolt networking also lets you connect the same cable to two devices to create a quick peer-to-peer connection for transferring data at up to 10 Gigabit Ethernet speeds.

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11 replies on “Thunderbolt 3 uses USB-C connector, transfers data at 40 Gbps”

  1. I’m wondering… will USB3.1 over Thunderbolt 3 really be faster than just regular USB 3.1?

    The 40 Gbps is the theoretical maximum that Thunderbolt 3 itself will be able to do (across all protocols), but will that really affect the USB protocol it interfaces with? Plus, won’t it be limited by the external devices’ own USB controller chips in either case?

    1. No, the 40Gbps will be if the other device also has TB – otherwise it’ll be just regular 10Gbps.

  2. Two lanes of 20Gbps in a single type-c cable (for 40Gbps total full duplex). An Intel C-type port will have a pletora of possible protocols. They all can’t be active at the same time.

    1. TBT3 controllers are not able combine multiple lanes like pcie, which means the fastest single link is 20Gbps.

    1. I would think and hope so!! PCI-e’s speed is like what.. 32GB/s? If true, Thunderbolt 3 @ 40GB/s is already faster!

      1. Not only that, but PCI-e is actually one of the supported additional protocols. So, at minimum it should be possible to plug a regular video card into a base station with a passive adapter to USB-C. A Thunderbolt 3-specific external video card should also be possible, but it’d probably be more expensive because of economy of scale.

    2. Thunderbolt has always been able to do eGPU through the PCI Express side, just not as fast as would be optimal… Unless you are asking if USB 3.1 will be able to implement it?

      More than the tech itself (which is capable), eGPU via TB3’s take-up will really depend on Intel’s willingness to grant licences and to drop prices for TB licences. Until that happens…. *shrug*

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