What Makes Thunderbolt 3 So Special?

What Makes Thunderbolt 3 So Special?

The most important feature of Thunderbolt is that it is a part of an elephantine leaped in wired interconnectivity. It has an ability to deliver data, video, and power over the same cable with 40GB/s of bandwidth. It will significantly change the way the users interact with devices running on video and data transfer.


Thunderbolt 3 is deemed to be a hardware interface that joins a number of different data transfer protocols and standards into one physical interconnect for a multitude of peripherals and accessories. Thunderbolt 3 works on the industry standard 24-pin USB-C type connector, but has the capability of much more than a standard USB 3.1. The supported standards and protocols of Thunderbolt 3 are as follows:

  • PCIe 3.0 (up to) x4
  • DisplayPort 1.2
  • USB 3.1 Gen 2
  • Thunderbolt Networking at over 10Gb Ethernet speeds
  • Hot Plug

Additionally, Thunderbolt 3 delivers an overall data transfer at a speed of 40 GB/s through the bi-directional cables and up to 100 W power to a computer, and 15W of additional devices over the connection as well. It can also maintain a daisy-chain connection o up to 6 various Thunderbolt devices via a single port.

In other words, a Thunderbolt 3 powered computer can function two 4K monitors at 60 MHz. It can rapidly transfer large files to an external storage device or connect to an external graphics device to play games on a thin and light PC.

Cables and Controllers

There is a dilemma between USB-C and Thunderbolt 3. The latter is what deemed as an alternate mode of the physical USB-C cable. Alternate modes function by re-assigning a variety of pins on the connectors of a cable to different functions. Usually, a computer which can use the PrimeCables thunderbolt cables alternate mode can notice the USB-C connector separately. This is done by a microchip which is termed as the controller. A computer can have a USB-C port, but doesn’t have a Thunderbolt 3 controller, which means that the system can support USB 3.1 but would not support Thunderbolt 3. But all Thunderbolt 3 ports are also USB 3.1 ports because Thunderbolt 3 supports USB 3.1.

Thunderbolt 3 is available in various lengths: .5m, 1m, and 2m, and assist two different speeds. The 0.5m cable supports transfer speeds of 40Gbit/s, and functions with Thunderbolt 3, USB 3.1, and DisplayPort devices. The 1m and 2m cables are available in two different versions. The first is a 20Gbit/s capable cable that assists Thunderbolt 3, USB, and DisplayPort devices. The second is a 40Gbit/s capable cable that supports only Thunderbolt 3 and USB 2. The cables are marked differently to display what level of performance they are capable to support. The 20Gbit/s capable Thunderbolt 3 cables have a Thunderbolt logo inscribed on the plug end, while the 40Gbit/s capable cables have both a Thunderbolt logo and the number 3 stamped on the plug end. Optical cables have been produced for both earlier generations of Thunderbolt, and are much longer than either active or passive copper cables. Depending on the manufacturer, optical Thunderbolt 2 cables could also have a maximum length of up to 60 meters. But, the major disadvantage being optical cables are unable to transmit any sort of electrical current, when compared to copper cables.