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Intel’s plans for Thunderbolt in 2014

Device charging and peer-to-peer connectivity are in the works for next year’s Thunderbolt controller.


Intel has big plans for Thunderbolt in 2014 as it pushes to make the connectivity standard more competitive against USB and now, to some extent, Ethernet.

According to documents obtained by VR-Zone, Intel is looking to bring some features found in USB and Ethernet to its high-speed connectivity platform with its 2014 controller. The new features that Intel is including are the ability to charge devices and transfer files between computers using a straight connection.

Here’s a breakdown of the 2014 controller:


There’s not much new on this diagram that hasn’t been already announced with the exception of the projected total power draw. Intel believes that it will have a TDP of approximately 1.5W and a approximately a 1mW idle draw.

Intel says that it’s including power delivery over Thunderbolt in its 2014 controller because of high customer demand. Intel notes that this controller will only have a stop-gap solution for power delivery until a full-featured solution arrives in 2015.

Slides show that Thunderbolt will be able to deliver up to 53W over a standard tethered cable via the PC’s regular Thunderbolt port.

The big question with Thunderbolt charging is adoption by manufacturers. Charging is a substantial addition to Thunderbolt, as it was one advantage USB had over the protocol. However adoption has been been quite slow, sources say, because of licensing barriers and strict validation.

The other big feature Intel is pushing out with next year’s Thunderbolt is the ability to do peer-to-peer connections. This means users can transfer files at 10Gbps, and share resources such as internet connectivity and printers.


Intel likely not trying to market this as an Ethernet killer, but a specialized protocol to use in workplaces that need to do frequent transfers of large file sizes. Intel says that regular Thunderbolt cables will suffice for peer-peer connections, unlike USB which requires a special bridge cable, which makes things very simple and straightforward.

More Thunderbolt announcements are expected at CES in January.

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