In March 2019, Intel Corporation announced that it has contributed the Thunderbolt protocol specification to the USB Promoter Group. The USB Promoter Group also announced the pending release of the USB4 specification, based on the Thunderbolt protocol. The convergence of the underlying Thunderbolt and USB protocols will increase compatibility among USB Type-C connector-based products, simplifying how people connect their devices. (Credit: Tim Herman/Intel Corporation)
What's New: Intel is well on its way to making the innovation delivered with Thunderbolt™ 3 available to everyone. Today, Intel announced that it contributed the Thunderbolt protocol specification to the USB Promoter Group, enabling other chipmakers to build Thunderbolt-compatible silicon, royalty-free. In addition, the USB Promoter Group announced the pending release of the USB4 specification, based on the Thunderbolt protocol. The convergence of the underlying Thunderbolt and USB protocols will increase compatibility among USB Type-C connector-based products, simplifying how people connect their devices.
"Releasing the Thunderbolt protocol specification is a significant milestone for making today's simplest and most versatile port available to everyone. This, in combination with the integration of Thunderbolt 3 into upcoming Intel processors is a win-win for the industry and consumers." –Jason Ziller, general manager, Client Connectivity Division at Intel
Why It Matters: Previously, Intel shared plans to integrate Thunderbolt 3 into future Intel CPUs and to release the Thunderbolt protocol specification to the industry. As detailed at CES 2019, Intel's upcoming 10nm processor code-named "Ice Lake" will be the first to integrate Thunderbolt 3. Processor integration, combined with today's announcement, is expected to drive large-scale, mainstream adoption of Thunderbolt.
Industry adoption of Thunderbolt 3 is accelerating. Thunderbolt 3 is fully supported in Windows 10*, macOS* and Linux*; volumes of PCs with these ports continue to double every year into the tens of millions; and all the latest Macs* have Thunderbolt 3 ports. More than 400 PC designs have been enabled with Thunderbolt 3. Peripheral device volumes also continue to double annually with more than 450 certified devices from a wide number of product categories, including docks, displays, storage and external graphics.
"Realizing HP's vision for the office of the future requires seamless connectivity, powerful performance and total simplicity to enable people to unleash their creativity wherever their workday takes them," said Bill Gorden, vice president, Commercial Notebook Management at HP. "Thunderbolt 3 is a powerful addition to our new notebooks and docks that delivers the flexibility sought by IT departments and the experiences people love."
"Samsung Electronics is responding to increasing consumer demand for Thunderbolt 3 by offering sleek and powerful notebooks and other peripheral devices," said Mincheol Lee, vice president, PC Strategic Marketing at Samsung Electronics. "We look forward to our ongoing collaboration with Intel to bring more innovative Thunderbolt 3 products to market."
How Thunderbolt Leads with Best-in-Class Solutions: Thunderbolt delivers world-class performance, ease-of-use and quality by unifying multiple industry specifications into an industry leading set of product capabilities. Thunderbolt is supported by an end-to-end solution enabling program for computer, peripheral device and cable makers to help ensure a consistent experience for all Thunderbolt connected products. Intel works with the industry to define product capabilities, validation testing and rigorous certification requirements, including:
- Working closely with Microsoft* to deliver built-in Windows 10 support for Thunderbolt 3, optimized for plug and play, platform power management, system charging and system wake features
- Intel CPU platform and peripheral reference design validation
- Extensive end-to-end testing to help ensure interoperability across a wide range of product types and manufacturers
- Mandatory Thunderbolt certification for all computers, peripheral devices and cables
- Cable enabling and cable quality audits for Thunderbolt cable manufacturers
Intel and other industry leaders continue to innovate on Thunderbolt technology to deliver a leading connectivity solution, from silicon and cables to PCs and peripheral devices.
More Context: Thunderbolt and Thunderbolt certified products