USB Type-C and Thunderbolt 3

Thunderbolt revisions

Revision Year released Super set of Top speed Port type
Thunderbolt 2011 Mini DisplayPort 10Gbps Mini DisplayPort
Thunderbolt 2 2013 Thunderbolt 20Gbps Mini DisplayPort
Thunderbolt 3 2015 Thunderbolt 2 (adapter required,) DisplayPort, PCIe 3rd Gen, USB 3.1 40Gbps (Short or active cable) 20Gbps (long, passive cable) USB-C

 

Here's how Thunderbolt 3 is different from its predecessors:

  • The Mini DisplayPort connection type has been ditched in favor of a USB-C connection type.
  • All Thunderbolt 3 cables will work as USB-C cables.
  • All USB-C cables will work as Thunderbolt 3 cables as long as they are good quality cables.
  • Thunderbolt 3 has a top data transfer speed of 40Gbps as long as the cable is 0.5m (1.6 ft.) or shorter.
  • For 1m (3.2 ft.) or longer cables, Thunderbolt 3 supports passive (cheaper) ones that have a top speed of 20Gbps, and active cables (more expensive) that retain the 40Gbps speed.
  • Thunderbolt 3 is backward-compatible with earlier versions of Thunderbolt, but due to the new port type, adapters are required to use legacy Thunderbolt devices.
  • Any USB-C device (like a Google Pixel) plugged into a Thunderbolt 3 port will function normally.
  • Since Thunderbolt 3 devices use discrete Thunderbolt chips to function, they will not function if plugged into a USB-C port.
All versions of Thunderbolt allow for daisy-chaining up to six devices together to a host and in addition to data, can also carry Hi-Def video and audio signals.

 

USB revisions

  Top speed Max power output Power direction Cable configuration Availability
USB 1.1 12Mbps N/A N/A Type-A to Type-B 1998
USB 2.0 480Mbps 5V, 1.8A Host to peripheral Type-A to Type-B 2000
USB 3.0 / USB 3.1 gen 1 5Gbps 5V, 1.8A Host to peripheral Type-A to Type-B 2008
USB 3.1 / USB 3.1 gen 2 10Gbps 20V, 5A Bi-directional / Host to peripheral (compatible) Type-C both ends, reversible plug orientation / Type-A to Type-C (compatible) 2013

 

USB Alias Logo (packaging) Logo (on-product)
USB 3.1 Gen1 SuperSpeed USB    
USB 3.1 Gen1 with USB Power Delivery (USB PD)
  N/A N/A
USB 3.1 Gen2SuperSpeed USB 10 Gbps
     
USB 3.1 Gen2 with USB Power Delivery (USB PD)
  N/A N/A
USB 3.1 Gen 2 with DisplayPort over Type-C
  N/A N/A
USB 3.1 Gen 2 with DisplayPort over Type-C with USB PD
  N/A N/A
English