For as long as I can remember, PC makers have been looking for a single cable/connector combination that can be used for video, peripherals, power and other I/O functions. Thunderbolt 3 with USB-C connectors brings us close to realising that dream. And to help with that Intel is planning to do two things: integrate Thunderbolt 3 into CPUs and releasing the Thunderbolt Protocol Specification to industry.
By integrating Thunderbolt into the CPU Intel says “computer makers can build thinner and lighter systems with only Thunderbolt 3 ports”. While the prospect of Thunderbolt-only systems has given rise to the #donglelife as people have had to carry extra adapters to support older USB devices, Thunderbolt and USB-C does offer significant benefits over the incumbent standards.
And by making the Thunderbolt protocol specification available to the industry under a nonexclusive, royalty-free license next year Intel is hoping to greatly increase Thunderbolt adoption by encouraging third-party chip makers to build Thunderbolt-compatible chips.
Moving between standards is not easy. USB-A connectors have been incredibly popular and, as a result, there is a massive base of devices that will require either replacement or the use of unwieldy adapters. For now, i think devices like the HP Spectre X360 I’ve been testing offer a good compromise with both USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 and USB-3 with USB-A connectors.