Thunderbolt 3 comes to Linux PCs

Dell is bringing Thunderbolt 3 to Linux systems via its upcoming XPS 13 Developer Edition laptop

Already compatible with Windows PCs and Macs, the super-fast Thunderbolt 3 connector technology will soon also work with Linux PCs.

The technology will be featured in a new model of Dell's upcoming XPS 13 Developer Edition, which will have Ubuntu Linux. Thunderbolt 3 will be available via a USB Type-C port.

The PC maker is building driver support for Thunderbolt 3 and USB Type-C into the XPS 13 Developer Edition, wrote a Dell employee in a company forum.

Thunderbolt 3 is a connector technology that can hook up PCs to external peripherals like storage and monitors. It's like USB, but four times faster. A 4K movie could be transferred from an external storage device to a PC in 30 seconds.

Linux PCs will be a lot more capable with Thunderbolt 3. Users will be able to connect two 4K monitors simultaneously, connect to external graphics cards and establish a peer-to-peer network with other Linux PCs.

Thunderbolt 3 was introduced last year, and can transfer data at a whopping 40Gbps (bits per second). That is twice as fast as Thunderbolt 2, which was introduced in 2014.

The biggest change in Thunderbolt 3 is a move away from proprietary connectors to USB Type-C ports and cables. USB Type-C connectors are being added to PCs, but a special controller is needed for the port to be Thunderbolt 3-capable.

Thunderbolt 3 also supports Gigabit Ethernet, DisplayPort and the PCI-Express data transfer protocol.

But questions remain as to whether Thunderbolt 3 peripherals -- which need separate drivers -- will actually work on Linux PCs. No peripheral on the Thunderbolt Web site is listed as being Linux compatible.

Over time, more Linux PCs will be Thunderbolt 3 ready. Intel has already implemented Thunderbolt 3 drivers in the Linux kernel, a spokesman for the chip-maker said.

The XPS 13 Developer Edition laptop -- which is part of an internal Dell Linux development effort called "Project Sputnik" -- will have an Intel sixth-generation Core processor code-named Skylake. The laptop is expected to become available soon.

Project Sputnik started off an as experiment four years ago to bring Linux to thin-and-light laptops with touchscreens. Sputnik has evolved into a larger effort to develop tools and drivers for hardware like Thunderbolt 3 to work on Linux.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Agam Shah

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Matthew Stivala

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

The HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer is a great device that fits perfectly into my fast paced and mobile lifestyle. My first impression of the printer itself was how incredibly compact and sleek the device was.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?