Intel To Integrate Thunderbolt 3 In Future Processors And Make Protocol Royalty Free
Not only will future Intel chips support USB-C, Intel is going the extra mile by releasing the Thunderbolt protocol specification to the industry free of charge. That is a very big deal—with no royalties in play, industry partners are free to fully embrace USB-C. Furthermore, it will no longer be a proprietary standard, joining the likes of USB, PCI-Express, and other open industry standards.
Image Source: Thunderbolttechnology.net
"Intel’s vision for Thunderbolt was not just to make a faster computer port, but a simpler and more versatile port available to everyone. We envision a future where high-performance single-cable docks, stunning photos and 4K video, lifelike VR, and faster-than-ever storage are commonplace. A world where one USB-C connector does it all – today, and for many years to come," Intel stated in a blog post.
Looking ahead, Intel's envisions computer manufacturers building
Intel's move also has the support of Microsoft.
"Microsoft and Intel are working together to enable Thunderbolt 3 on Windows PCs to deliver on the ‘if it fits, it works’ potential of USB-C," said Roanne Sones, general manager, Strategy and Ecosystem for Windows and Devices at Microsoft. "The Windows 10 Creators Update enhanced plug-and-play support for Thunderbolt 3 devices, with additional enhancements planned for future OS releases."
It has been a somewhat bumpy road for USB-C. It first arrived in 2009 as Light Peak with support from Apple before later morphing into Thunderbolt. With the introduction of Thunderbolt 2, Intel was able to double the theoretical speed ceiling from 10Gbps to 20Gbps, but it remained a proprietary spec. As such, vendors have never been real eager to adopt Thunderbolt connectivity.
Fast forward to today and the Thunderbolt 3 spec with USB-C connectivity has a theoretical speed ceiling of 40Gbps. It's faster than the USB 3.1 Gen2 standard, but still costly to implement. With Intel removing that barrier, vendors have little reason not to adopt the standard moving forward.
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