Out of the blue Intel today annouced plans to integrate Thunderbolt 3 functionality in future Intel CPU silicon, omiting the need for an additional and expensive dedicated chip on the motherboard. This will ofcourse allow to save some board space and power consumption, but this will probably result in much more choice in motherboards that support Thunderbolt 3. Considering the limited choice in TB3-enabled Mini ITX boards, just the one ASRock Fatal1ty Z270 Gaming-ITX/ac, this is welcome change and might even make Thunderbolt 3 possible on Mini STX.
This plan goes hand in hand with Intel releasing the protocol specifications for Thunderbolt so other companies can integrate support for the technology into their own devices more easily. For many SFF enthusiasts, this might mean cheaper and more diverse Thunderbolt 3 external GPU enclosures in the future but there might be even more possibilities in the horizon.
What remains unclear is which CPU generation and which models will feature the technology and which design choices have to be made for motherboards to support it.
Discuss with our community here.