But Intel’s latest chips don’t actually include native support for Thunderbolt 3. Device makers have needed to integrate a discrete Thunderbolt 3 controller, which has slowed adoption.
That’s one of the reasons why every device with a Thunderbolt 3 port can support USB Type-C accessories… but not every device with a USB Type-C port supports Thunderbolt 3’s 40 Gb/s data transfer speeds and other key features.
Now Intel wants to make it easier for device makers to adopt Thunderbolt 3 by integrating the technology “into future Intel CPUs.”
Intel will also make the Thunderbolt 3 specification available royalty-free to help anyone integrate the technology.
Here are a few of the benefits of Thunderbolt 3:
- Support for sending video to up to two external 4K displays
- Support for up to 100 watts of power delivery (your USB port can be your laptop’s power jack)
- Supply up to 15 watts to bus-powered devices (for charging phones or tablets, or powering USB displays, among other peripherals)
- Up to 4x faster data transfer speeds than you get with USB 3.1
By supporting Thunderbolt 3 at the chip level and making the spec available, Intel is probably increasing the odds that you’ll start to see the technology in mid-range PCs. Right now it tends to be available exclusively on higher-end machines.
While Intel says Thunderbolt 3 will be integrated into “future” CPUs though, it’s unclear if that means all future CPUS including entry-level, low-power Celeron and Pentium chips or if this is a feature that will be reserved for Core family processors.