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Guide to Thunderbolt™ 3

Summary: Learn about Thunderbolt™ 3 and its features and find information about frequently asked questions on Thunderbolt™ 3

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Article Summary : This article provides information on what is Thunderbolt™ 3, key features of Thunderbolt™ 3 and answers to some frequently asked questions.

Table of Contents:

  1. What is Thunderbolt™ technology?
  2. What is Thunderbolt™ 3 over USB Type-C?
  3. Key Features of Thunderbolt™ 3 over USB Type-C
  4. Frequently Asked Questions

What is Thunderbolt™ technology?

Thunderbolt™ (previously called Light Peak) is a hardware interface that combines data, video, audio, and power in a single connection. Thunderbolt™ combines PCI Express (PCIe) and DisplayPort™ (DP) into one serial signal, and additionally provides DC power, all in one cable.
Thunderbolt™ 1 and Thunderbolt™ 2 use the same connector as miniDP (DisplayPort) to connect to peripherals, while Thunderbolt™ 3 uses a USB Type-C connector (Figure 1).
SLN296826_en_US__1I_Thunderbolt_vs_Thunderbolt3_TM_v1
Figure 1: Thunderbolt™ v/s Thunderbolt™ 3

SLN296826_en_US__2iC_Number_Caption1_BD_v1 Thunderbolt™ 1 and Thunderbolt™ 2 (using a miniDP connector)
SLN296826_en_US__3iC_Number_Caption2_BD_v1 Thunderbolt™ 3 (using a USB Type-C connector)

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What is Thunderbolt™ 3 (Thunderbolt™ over USB Type-C)?

Thunderbolt™ 3 brings Thunderbolt™ technology to USB Type-C at speeds up to 40 Gbps, creating one compact port that does it all – delivering the fastest, most versatile connection to any dock, display or data device like an external hard drive. Thunderbolt™ 3 uses a USB Type-C connector/port to connect to supported peripherals.

  • Thunderbolt™ 3 uses USB Type-C connector and cables - It is compact and reversible.
  • Thunderbolt™ 3 supports speed up to 40 Gbps.
  • DisplayPort™ 1.2 – compatible with existing DisplayPort monitors, devices and cables.
  • USB Power Delivery - Up to 130W on supported computers.
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Key Features of Thunderbolt™ 3

  • Thunderbolt™, USB, DisplayPort™ and Power Delivery over a single USB Type-C cable (*features vary between different products)
  • USB Type-C connector and cables which are compact and reversible
  • Supports Thunderbolt Networking (*varies between different products)
  • Supports up to two 4K displays
  • Up to 40 Gbps speed
    Note: Data transfer speed may vary between different devices.
  • Low latency
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Frequently Asked Questions

What speeds does Thunderbolt™ support?

Thunderbolt™ is currently available in Thunderbolt™, Thunderbolt™ 2 and Thunderbolt™ 3.

Thunderbolt™ Thunderbolt™ 2 Thunderbolt™ 3
Up to 10Gbps Up to 20Gbps Up to 40Gbps

What types of Thunderbolt™ devices are available?

Different types of Thunderbolt™ capable devices available are external hard drives, audio/video capture devices, displays and I/O hubs.

What type of physical connection does Thunderbolt™ use?

Thunderbolt™ uses a connector that fits the miniDP (DisplayPort™) port or connector.

What are the requirements for cables?

Thunderbolt™ devices require Thunderbolt™ certified cables for optimal performance. Thunderbolt™ certified cables come in copper or optical cable variants. Look for the Thunderbolt™ logo on the connectors and ports.
Although the port's appearance is physically the same as miniDP (DisplayPort™), using standard miniDP (DisplayPort™) cables cannot be used to connect Thunderbolt™ devices.

How do i find out if my computer, display or cable is Thunderbolt™ capable?

The port's appearance is physically the same as miniDP (DisplayPort™). To confirm you have a Thunderbolt™ port on your computer, display, or cable check for the Thunderbolt™ symbol next to or above the port or connector.

Can I connect USB devices to a Thunderbolt™ 3 port?

Yes, Thunderbolt™ 3 uses USB Type-C port and it is fully compatible with USB devices and cables. However, you may require compatible adapters to connect USB Type-A or other USB connectors.

What is the difference between Thunderbolt™ 3 and USB Type-C?

Thunderbolt™ 3 is a superset solution which includes USB 3.1 (10Gbps), and adds 40Gbps Thunderbolt™ and DisplayPort™ 1.2 from a single USB Type-C port.

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Article Properties


Affected Product

Dell Dock WD15, Dell Thunderbolt Dock TB15, Dell Thunderbolt Dock TB16, Dell Precision Dual USB-C Thunderbolt Dock - TB18DC

Last Published Date

21 Feb 2021

Version

3

Article Type

Solution

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