The next generation of the high-speed Thunderbolt specification was announced today, passing over the legacy Mini DisplayPort connector for the new smaller, reversible USB-C standard, and potentially offering transfer speeds of up to 40Gbps with high-end cables.
Thunderbolt 3 will be a "superset" for USB 3.1, which runs at 10Gbps. Using a standard USB-C cable, Thunderbolt 3 will offer transfer speeds of twice that, at 20Gbps.
You will need to buy an active copper USB-C cable to gain access to 40Gbps transfer speeds with Thunderbolt 3. Furthermore with the release of optical cables, supporting the new standard, will offer that same speed over greater distances.
Because Thunderbolt 3 is compliant with the USB-C standard and USB 3.1 specification, the cabling will also simultaneously support DisplayPort 1.2, third-generation PCI Express, and power supply for recharging notebooks at up to 100 watts.
Apple was among the first to adopt the new USB-C connector with its all-new 12-inch MacBook, featuring a single USB-C port for both charging and connecting devices. USB-C is reversible, like Apple's proprietary Lightning connector, but the open standard is expected to be adopted by most forthcoming PCs and will not be limited to Apple hardware. But the current Apple models with USB-C connectors won't be able to support Thunderbolt 3.
Does this neatly bypass the USB-3 / Thunderbolt argument, will we get one uniform connector across the various platforms? What do you think?