What is Thunderbolt™ 3?
Thunderbolt 3 is the latest version of the hardware interface that has been co-developed by Intel and Apple since early 2011. In its third iteration, which was launched in 2015, Thunderbolt adopted the USB-C connector. This replaced Mini DisplayPort (MDP), improving its interoperability and general compatibility.
Thunderbolt was created to replace the obsolete “FireWire” serial bus communications interface, and also to offer a simple yet versatile solution for the consumer. To achieve this feat, it combines the PCI Express (PCIe) bus standard with the DisplayPort digital display interface into a single cable. In addition to data, Thunderbolt is also capable of delivering DC electricity to power-up devices that need up to 100 watts of power. And while Thunderbolt 3 can provide power, that doesn’t mean manufacturers support it in all instances: check before you buy to ensure what you buy will meet your needs.
Thunderbolt 3 supports bandwidth rates up to 40 Gbps, so it’s easily the fastest port available in the market right now. This translates to transferring a 4K movie in under 30 seconds. It supports 4-lane PCI Express, DisplayPort 1.2, and now DisplayPort 1.4 (using Intel’s latest Thunderbolt 3 controller known as Titan Ridge). Thunderbolt 3 is also backward compatible with the two previous generations of Thunderbolt, although one would need to use adapters for this purpose.
To see Plugable’s lineup of Thunderbolt 3 products, click here
What Can I Use Thunderbolt 3 For?
The short answer would be to connect stuff on your PC or laptop. That could be docks where you can hook up keyboards and mice, data devices such as whole RAID arrays of external disks, or even up to two 4K displays (at 60 Hz) on the same port. Thunderbolt can send high-fidelity audio and 4K video simultaneously, so you won’t need anything else to get media playing on a screen. Thanks to the unprecedented data transfer rates of Thunderbolt 3, it is also possible to enjoy seamless gaming on an underpowered laptop by connecting an external graphics card on the port. As for “daisy-chaining” (connecting devices together in a line), you can link up to six devices and finally hook them all on a single Thunderbolt 3 port.