Intel has given up trying to make money from its Thunderbolt 3 connectivity standard, dropping its royalty demands, in the hope that hardware makers will adopt it as a universal standard.
At the same time, Intel has finally got round to actually adding Thunderbolt 3 support to its microprocessors, something it perhaps ought to have done a long time ago. Intel will also support USB 3.1 gen 2 for the first time.
Describing Thunderbolt 3 as "one of the most significant cable I/O updates since the advent of USB", the company has confirmed that it no longer plans to charge royalties on the technology in the hope of driving adoption.
Unlike earlier Thunderbolt technologies, this one conforms to the USB-C standard, the new(ish) all-for-one port that is designed to standardise connection for everything from power supply to printer cables.
There has been some rumblings over poorly made USB-C cables, leading to a campaign by Googler Benson Leung who tested a variety of cables, sacrificing his Pixel C to a dodgy cable in the process. This has lead to a ban on dodgy cables from Amazon and a quality certification from the USB-IF working group.
In its announcement, Intel explains: "With Thunderbolt 3 integrated into the CPU, computer makers can build thinner and lighter systems with only Thunderbolt 3 ports. For the first time, all the ports on a computer can be the same - any port can charge the system and connect to Thunderbolt devices, every display and billions of USB devices.
"Designs based on Intel's integrated Thunderbolt 3 solution require less board space and reduce power by removing the discrete component needed for existing systems with Thunderbolt 3."
Because USB-C was designed to replace a range of interface including Displayport and HDMI, it is capable of carrying the technology from them all along the same USB-C cable, however, Thunderbolt 3 has been largely ignored outside Apple circles. (Apple circles are like regular circles but with a chunk taken out).
Intel worked with Apple to bring Thunderbolt 3 into the USB-C fold, something that's remarkably public spirited by Apple's proprietary standards.
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