Intel to make Thunderbolt 3 royalty-free in bid to spur adoption
We’re big fans of Thunderbolt 3 here at Ars, attracted by its enormous versatility, high performance, and the promise of being a single port and a single cable that can do it all. While the technology is becoming increasingly common on high-end portables, it’s still far from ubiquitous. Intel has announced a couple of measures that should go a long way toward boosting Thunderbolt 3’s adoption.
The first step is straightforward and, in our view, a long time coming: the company is going to finally integrate Thunderbolt 3 into its processors. Although the first Thunderbolt 3 chips, codenamed “Alpine Ridge,” were released in the third quarter of 2015, last year’s Kaby Lake chipsets, including the high-end Z270, didn’t include any native Thunderbolt 3 support. Instead, vendors had to add Alpine Ridge chips separately, with many of them opting not to do so. They preferred to avoid both the extra expense and extra complexity.
Alpine Ridge also includes support for USB 3.1 generation 2, which offers speeds of 10 gigabits per second, doubling generation 1’s 5 gigabits per second. But while many desktop motherboards do include generation 2 support, they’ve almost invariably done so using chipsets other than Alpine Ridge. Again, companies want to avoid that expense and complexity.