Intel’s Thunderbolt 3 technology has been a major leap forward in terms of cable technology. However, the adoption rate for the USB Type-C connector based standard has been abysmally low. So much so that Intel has announced a range of new measures in a bid to increase adoption.
For starters, Thunderbolt 3 controllers will be directly integrated into future Intel CPUs. As it currently stands, manufacturers have to opt to include a separate controller chip onto their motherboard designs; something that hasn’t quite happened yet.
Directly building the controller into the CPU will reduce costs for manufacturers; and make it much easier for OEMs to include Thunderbolt 3 ports on their products. It’ll also make it easier for home system builders to integrate the connector into their machines; although not by much.
The second step from Intel is to make Thunderbolt 3 a non-exclusive, royalty-free standard. Essentially allowing anyone and everyone to adopt the technology without having to fork out any additional cash. Ideally, this should make it more attractive for technology companies to integrate the standard into their designs.
Thunderbolt 3 offers a lot of benefits over a regular USB Type-C connection, including much faster transfer rates. More importantly, it allows for external GPU rigs to be used; which will allow laptops to benefit from desktop level graphics while retaining some amount of portability.
These changes to Intel’s Thunderbolt 3 policy probably won’t be felt for some time. We’re still a way off from the next Intel Core processor, and the royalty-free policy is only set to come into practice next year. Still, Intel knows what it’s doing here. After all, it did popularise the idea of USB ports.