Thunderbolt 3 Has USB Type-C Connector, Drives Two 4K Screens at Once

By Jamie Condliffe on at

If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. Intel has announced that its new Thunderbolt standard, the third iteration of the inter-connector, will use the USB Type-C connector—as well as boasting data transfer rates that allow it to drive two 4K screen simultaneously.

The move will see Thunderbolt 3 cables looking virtually identical to normal USB-C cables, save for the small lightning logo. While the cable will be able to support the same power and data transfers as a normal USB cable, it will also allow for much higher data transfer rates, made possible by the on-board electronics that Thunderbolt cables possess.

In fact, Thunderbolt 3 will support data rates of up to 40 Gbps, a doubling of Thunderbolt 2’s 20 Gbps. That’s much higher than USB 3.0’s 5Gbps and USB 3.1’s 10 Gbps. Intel points out that the dizzying capacity is enough to transfer a 4K movie in less than 30 seconds, and it will allow one cable to support two 4K displays running at 60Hz, simultaneously. It will also carry 100 watts of power. That’s pretty hot stuff.

Intel’s move also makes USB Type-C look even more attractive than ever by upping its cross-compatibility—and it was already pretty attractive. If you have Thunderbolt 2 hardware, an adapter will be available to allow Thunderbolt 3 to interface with it. Intel expects the first Thunderbolt 3 products to be available by the end of 2015. [Intel via Verge]