Intel has unveiled its third generation Thunderbolt interface, shedding its loyal Mini DisplayPort connector in favor of the nascent USB-C format. Further to offering greater degrees of versatility when hooking up peripherals, Thunderbolt 3 beefs up bandwidth from 20 Gbps of the second generation to 40 Gbps and can pipe power to your devices at the same time.
Apple raised its share of eyebrows when it announced a new MacBook bearing only a single port earlier this year. This feature was met with a healthy amount of intrigue, or even scepticism, but hinted at a future where less might mean much more when it comes to plugging things into your machine. Intel's announcement at the Computex conference in Taipei on Tuesday gives this vision a nice little nudge along, in essence promising a single standard capable of serving everybody from the casual user to professionals that deal in huge data transfers.
Adopting USB-C means that Thunderbolt 3 will feature a reversible connector. It can deliver two 4K displays running at 60 Hz and charge your device with up to 100 W of power transfer. It incorporates support for DisplayPort 1.2 and USB 3.1, meaning that existing USB-C cables can still be accommodated, though data transfer will top out at 10 Gbps.
These combine for a pretty impressive list of specs, but Thunderbolt 3's most profound impact may prove to be an ushering in of widely useful single-port machines. With the relatively small USB-C connector that is finding newly compatible devices all the time, this could extend to ever-slimming phones and tablets to send tangled webs of cables the way of the compact disc.
Intel plans to begin shipping Thunderbolt 3 products before the end of this year.