Thunderbolt 3 Is a New High Speed Interface

Thunderbolt 3 by Intel

Thunderbolt 3 Is a New High Speed Interface

Every few years a new interface hits the market and delivers astounding improvements.

Thunderbolt 3 is one of those, a newly designed chip, protocol and physical connection that Intel hopes will replace all cables we use for peripheral devices.

Thunderbolt™ 3 is computer port nirvana – delivering two 4K displays, fast data, and quick notebook charging. It fulfills the promise of USB-C for single-cable docking and so much more. OEMs and device developers are going to love it. Navin Shenoy, General Manager of Mobility Client Platforms, Intel Corporation.

Intel has been developing Thunderbolt for over five years with the first generation being released in 2011. The third generation is expected to be released early 2016.

What is Thunderbolt 3?

Thunderbolt 3 is a high speed, high power interface used for connecting displays and peripheral devices.

Here are some key features:


Supports speeds up to 40 Gb/s or 20 Gb/s when using cheaper cables.



The range of cables will extend to 60 meters from the existing two meter lengths.



Charging of up to 100 Watts is possible with external devices receiving up to 15 watts (up from 10 Watts in Thunderbolt 2).


Thunderbolt 3 Tech Specs

  • Thunderbolt™, USB, DisplayPort, and power over USB-C
  • USB-C connector and cables
  • 40 Gbp/s Thunderbolt™ 3 – double the speed of Thunderbolt 2
  • Bi-directional, dual-protocol (PCI Express and DisplayPort)
  • 4 lanes of PCI Express Generation 3
  • 8 lanes of DisplayPort 1.2 (HBR2 and MST)
  • Supports two 4K displays (4096 x 2160 30bpp @ 60 Hz)
  • USB 3.1 (10 Gbps) – compatible with existing USB devices and cables
  • DisplayPort 1.2 – compatible with existing DisplayPort displays, devices, and cables
  • Connect DVI, HDMI, and VGA displays via adapters
  • Power (based on USB power delivery)
  • Up to 100W system charging
  • 15W to bus-powered devices
  • Thunderbolt™ Networking
  • 10Gb Ethernet connection between computers
  • Daisy chaining (up to six devices)
  • Lowest latency for PCI Express audio recording


Thunderbolt 3

One interesting use of Thunderbolt 3 is for driving high end graphics. Intel has been working on a graphics dock that can drive two 4K monitors, enabling small laptops to function as a high end desktop computer.

To keep up to date with mobility news please subscribe to our newsletter.