Today, Intel made some major announcements related to Thunderbolt 3 I/O standard. Thunderbolt 3 aims to be the one USB-C connector that can support high-performance single-cable docks, 4K photos and video, VR, and more. Intel today announced its plans to integrate Thunderbolt 3 into future Intel CPUs. Also, Intel is releasing the Thunderbolt protocol specification to the industry next year. Both these moves will drive large-scale mainstream adoption of Thunderbolt.
If Intel integrates Thunderbolt 3 into CPUs, OEMs can build thinner and lighter systems with only Thunderbolt 3 ports. Such designs will require less board space and reduce power by removing the discrete component needed for existing systems with Thunderbolt 3. Also, releasing the Thunderbolt protocol specification under a nonexclusive, royalty-free license will increase Thunderbolt adoption by encouraging third-party chip makers to build Thunderbolt-compatible chips.
Intel is partnering with Apple, Microsoft and others to improve support for Thunderbolt 3 on popular operating systems. With the recently released Windows 10 Creators Update, Microsoft enhanced Thunderbolt 3 device plug-and-play support. Now, Intel is working with Microsoft to further enhance the experience in upcoming Windows updates.
“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.”
I really hope Microsoft starts including Thunderbolt 3 ports in their Surface family of devices in the future. Learn more about Thunderbolt 3 here.