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Intel Thunderbolt™ 3 and USB-C: One Single Port For All of Your Devices

Posted by Rory Carvalho

Sep 28, 2015 10:00:00 AM

Thunderbolt 3

Will USB-C open up new possibilities for Thunderbolt and PC?

   For years most PC users have only been able to admire Intel Thunderbolt from a distance since Thunderbolt ports have been available to more Apple products than PC. "Statistics show that Microsoft Windows has approximately 91% of the market share, while the Apple Mac OS has around 5% of the market share. The other 4% is owned by other operating systems such as Linux" (HONGKIAT). The majority of users were not able to take advantage of the Thunderbolt I/O interface.

Until now...

   The development of Thunderbolt 3 (expected to come out at the end of 2015), is the upcoming version of the Thunderbolt I/O interface - updating speed, capabilities, power consumption and flexibility. Thunderbolt is unifying with USB-C, resulting in the ultimate solution of one single port for all of your devicesThis means that not only is Thunderbolt 3 going to be faster and better but also USB-C is going to open it up to a larger mass market for the first time.

   By having access to this universal port and cable, all PC manufacturers will now have the availability to share connector and cable technology regardless of if they are making Thunderbolt, USB or Display port devices. When manufacturers have Thunderbolt 3 chips available to them, it will be one of the first chips that can support the full 10GBps USB-C standard. According to Dan Snyder, an Intel spokesperson, it is expected that there will be “more than 30 mobile PC designs” that are Thunderbolt 3-equipped to come out within the next year (Wired). Thunderbolt merging with the USB-C port will make Thunderbolt 3 far more prevalent amongst PC's and easier to obtain.  

Thunderbolt 3 banner  

   In Intel's early exploration of Thunderbolt 3, they realized that they could use USB-C port as a new connector. USB-C is the new industry standard connector and cable used for connectivity and power. It is one port for both power and peripherals and it can carry up to 100W of power for charging.  It's the thinnest USB to date so it can fit into any device and both ends are reversible so you never need to worry about plugging it in upside down (surprisingly more convenient than you may think). 

   The Thunderbolt 3 uses mini display ports on both ends that comprise a combination of PCI Express and Display Port as well as a DC connection for power all in one cable. It can run up to six total devices off of a single connector by daisy chaining them all together or connecting to a hub. 


Unification of USB-C and Thunderbolt 3 = More Possibilities  

  • Speed40 Gbps, that's four times as fast as the original Thunderbolt. 
  • 4k Video: Connect 4K displays with outstanding resolution, contrast and color depth to see precise detail in all your applications, photos and videos (can transfer 3 hrs of 4k video in less 1 min).
  • Thunderbolt Networking: Connection at 10 GbE speeds to quickly transfer files, PC migrations or set up shared storage for small work groups. 
  • Single-cable docking: Most advanced and versatile USB-C docking solution that allows data transfer, support for two 4K 60 Hz displays, and notebook charging with a single cable.  

Evolution of Thunderbolt Speed



     Intel's original Thunderbolt technology had the capability to run 10 GB/s of data, dramatically increasing data transfer rates of the time. Since then, Thunderbolt 2 was developed with the ability to transfer 20 GB/s and now with the Thunderbolt 3, 40 GB/s!    




FPGA and Thunderbolt

   As Thunderbolt 3 makes its way onto the market, Machine Vision cameras are stepping on to Thunderbolt technology to enable new levels of image performance and accessibility. Thunderbolt interfaces are becoming increasingly more available as they appear in more chip-sets and Motherboards and allow the option to utilize copper or optical cables. 

   Machine Vision cameras enable inspection tasks and digital image acquisition and analysis. Altera FPGA enables optimum performance and connectivity for Machine Vision designers. Devices take advantage of the flexibility of Altera MAX 10 and Altera Cyclone IV FPGA to support evolving camera interfaces.

   Xilinx smarter vision systems enable adoption of high-quality, automated vision technologies in the factory, relieving the need for human interaction. There platforms deliver low risk, low total cost of ownership, and fast time to market using a highly differentiated framework including Xilinx All-Programmable FPGA, Zynq SoC devices, SmareCore portfolios and more.   

    EarthTron is a Xilinx distributor and an Altera distributor. As an unlimited franchised distributor, we are a reliable source for both Altera FPGA and Xilinx FPGA.  We are actively looking to buy FPGA excess or obsolete Xilinx FPGA. 

Search for FPGA     Search our inventory list to buy FPGA or send us your excess electronics. If you don't see what you are looking for, send us a RFQ anyway. We guarantee at least 15% off list prices.

    For more info on Thunderbolt click here

Thunderbolt and the Thunderbolt logo are trademarks of Intel Corporation in the U.S. and/or other countries.



PC mag

Thunderbolt Technology


Topics: FPGA, Thunderbolt

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