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Google teases Thunderbolt 3 support for Chromebooks in new code commit

Chromebooks could soon support a feature that has long been present on competing Windows 10 laptops and MacBooks. According to a very specific new commit from the Chromium Repositories, Google might be working to add support for Thunderbolt 3 to ChromeOS, and perhaps newer Chromebook devices.

If this commit holds up, heading into the future, Chromebook users might be able to enjoy a list of abilities and benefits long familiar to others with Macbooks or Windows laptops. That includes support for a wider range of external monitors, as well as docking stations, and faster data transfer rates when copying files to and from Chromebooks.

In addition, Thunderbolt 3 allows for better charging for many external devices (like a smartphone or headphones) connected to a laptop, as it can deliver up to 100 watts of power. Support for external GPUs is also a possibility for better gaming, and video and photo editing. However,  the ChromeOS operating system isn’t really equipped for that at present.

“This code enables Thunderbolt 3 over Type-C interface. Thunderbolt provides concurrent support for PCIe transactions and DisplayPort and the Thunderbolt controller provides isochronous communication on a single network style interface, allowing a Host computer to communicate at high bandwidth with multiple data/display devices through a single physical connection,” explains Google in the Chromium Repository commit.

As great as this sounds, it is important to note that current Chromebooks are not likely to get the Thunderbolt 3 compatibility. According to ChromeUnboxed, most newer Chromebooks are still powered by eighth-generation Intel processors, which do not have the required technology to support Thunderbolt 3 inside. Instead, it’s likely that Thunderbolt 3 support will be reserved for Chromebooks to be released later next year in 2020, to be powered by Intel’s newest Cannon Lake processors.

Still, Google and its partners are not alone in being slow to adopt Thunderbolt 3 onboard Chromebooks. As we pointed out in our review, Microsoft’s newest Surface devices — the Surface Laptop 3 and Surface Pro 7 — do not support Thunderbolt 3.

Thunderbolt technology has been prevalent since 2000 and was championed by Apple. It was once based on the older DisplayPort connection base, but recently became part of the USB-C standard.

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Arif Bacchus
Arif Bacchus is a native New Yorker and a fan of all things technology. Arif works as a freelance writer at Digital Trends…
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