Look around your house and chances are you have at least a few devices that use Universal Serial Bus. On average, some 3 billion USB ports are shipped each year, making it by far the most successful peripheral connection type in the world.
In fact, device manufacturers are so confident in the new USB-C standard that Intel announced last year that Thunderbolt 3, once thought to be a USB replacement, will use the same port type as USB-C. This means every Thunderbolt 3 port will also work as a USB-C port and every Thunderbolt 3 cable will work as a USB-C cable.
Before you can fully appreciate what a leap forward both USB Type-C and Thunderbolt 3 are, let's familiarize you with Type-A, Type-B, and the various versions of the Thunderbolt standard.
Prior to Thunderbolt 3, Thunderbolt 2 and the original Thunderbolt shared the same cable type and port (which is the same port type as Apple's Mini DisplayPort) and had top data transfer speeds of 20Gbps and 10Gbps, respectively. With these older Thunderbolt standards, the cable was active, meaning the cable itself is a device that requires power to operate (which is why most Thunderbolt 1 or 2 devices would require an external power source in order to function.) This made Thunderbolt a much more expensive solution, as the cable itself is some 10 times more expensive than a USB cable of the same length.
|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:
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.