Recently, there emerges a new type of the interface whose shape is quite similar to the USB-C while it normally has a ‘flash’ logo nearby. So what is the difference between these two types of the interface?
Firstly, we should not confused the notion of USB Type C interface with thunderbolt considering they are totally different types of things. USB Type C is a specific shape of interface which is comparable with USB Type A or USB Type B interface while thunderbolt is a type of protocol that decide the bandwidth or transmission speed of the interface. Thus, thunderbolt should be compared with the protocol such as USB 3.1 or USB 2.0.
USB 3.1 protocol, though published with the USB C interface, is not completely complied with the USB C. To put it simple, USB C interface doesn’t necessarily support USB 3.1 and USB 3.1 standard which could also be supported with USB Type A, etc., is not unique for USB Type C interface.
Thunderbolt is developed by Intel with the participation of Apple hence the original thunderbolt is restricted to Apple devices. Considering the expensive cost of adopting mini DP interface, to promote the former generation of mini DP is not easy. With the prevalence of USB Type C, Intel decides to remove the mini DP interface with the USB C.
In parameters, thunderbolt 3 could realize most function of USB C with a much higher transmission speed(40Gbps bi-direction of thunderbolt 3). The border bandwidth means that this single interface is able to support high-end docking station with multiple interfaces even external GPU docking station. Thunderbolt technology combines PCI Express and DisplayPort communication protocols. PCI Express is used for data transmission and can be easily extended to any type of device. DisplayPort is used for display and can synchronize 1080p or even Ultra HD video and up to eight-channel audio. And the two channels in the transmission have their own separate channel, will not produce any interference.
As for the advantages of thunderbolt interface, The interface is easy to use. Bidirectional charging: it can be used to charge other devices, or to charge the laptop itself. And positive and negative can be inserted, no longer like the old USB port to recognize the positive and negative before insertion. Also, Both power and bandwidth are very high, power up to 100W (actually can be higher), support two-way data transmission, bandwidth up to 40Gbps. This is great, and we’ll talk more about it later. Third, compatible with a variety of transport protocols in the market, including: USB3.1, Thunderbolt 1 and 2, and DisplayPort and PCI Express. The new Thunderbolt 3 interface is an all-in-one mode: video signals, normal data, network data, and power can all be transmitted through a very small Type-C interface.