Intel to finally license and integrate Thunderbolt 3 onto its future CPUs
Thunderbolt 3 is one of the most versatile ports available for notebooks and PCs. Its slim profile and ability to connect anything from smartphones up to massive external GPU docking stations have made the port a must-have for enthusiasts and especially gamers. Despite the advantages, market penetration has been sluggish as most manufacturers would rather incorporate USB Type-C Gen. 1 or Gen. 2 without native support for Thunderbolt 3 speeds.
This is all set to change as Intel has announced that it will begin incorporating native Thunderbolt 3 support onto its processors with additional plans to make the specification royalty-free. Once complete, nearly every manufacturer should be able to more easily create products with Thunderbolt 3 ports similar to how USB Type-A has become ubiquitous on consumer electronics. Currently, Thunderbolt 3 compatibility requires an additional controller chipset from individual manufacturers that adds costs and volume to the final product. This "middle-man" step should soon become a thing of the past at least for Intel-powered devices.
Exactly when we can see Intel processors with integrated Thunderbolt 3 controllers has not yet been detailed. While licensing costs should be dropping next year, "Thunderbolt 3 Ready" processors and subsequent products may take much longer before they can sit on store shelves.