Thunderbolt Share: lightning-fast PC-to-PC connection with licence restriction
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Thunderbolt Share: lightning-fast PC-to-PC connection with licence restriction

Martin Jud
Translation: machine translated

From June, Intel will introduce Thunderbolt Share, a new direct connection for Windows PCs - support for Linux and macOS is planned. However, there is one major restriction, as Intel requires an additional licence for this.

Connect two PCs with a Thunderbolt 4 or 5 connection with just one cable and get a fast connection with at least 40 gigabits of data throughput per second. This is exactly what will be possible from June thanks to Thunderbolt Share, at least in theory. Intel is adding a useful function to Thunderbolt that cannot be used with all hardware due to a licence system that is disastrous for the end user. And this is despite the fact that it is a software extension.

What Thunderbolt Share can do

Thunderbolt Share is new software that utilises the direct connection technology Thunderbolt Networking. Intel introduced this almost ten years ago, but it has been little used to date.

You can use Thunderbolt Share:

  • control another computer virtually instantaneously
  • Synchronise folders
  • Swap files by hand.
  • Migrate data from an old computer to a new one

    Requirements: Why Thunderbolt Share only works with new hardware

    As the new function is software that uses existing technology, Thunderbolt Share also works with old hardware in principle. However, only in theory, as Intel wants to earn a golden nose with the new software.

You need the following for Thunderbolt Share:

  • Two PCs with Thunderbolt 4 or 5 and installed Thunderbolt Share software
  • Windows 10 or 11 operating systems (Linux and macOS are planned)
  • A Thunderbolt 4 or 5 cable

And (for the suffering of all users):

  • A Thunderbolt Share licence for at least one PC or Thunderbolt accessory

This means that you can only use the direct lightning connection if you are using a new device for which the manufacturer has purchased the licence from Intel. This can be a PC, a notebook or accessories such as a docking station or a monitor. Corresponding products should gradually come onto the market from the second half of the year. Intel has already prepared an overview page of supported products.

If you are planning to buy a new docking station, it might be worth waiting a little longer. It's a shame Intel isn't taking advantage of the opportunity to do some good marketing with a new free feature. Intel would rather rub its hands at the expense of the buying public.

Update from 17 May 2024: But also possible with old (licensed) hardware

In a call with journalists, Intel apparently first answered questions about Thunderbolt Share incorrectly or unclear. The company subsequently clarified via FAQ that there is no restriction on the part of Intel regarding possible licensing for PCs and/or accessories that have already been delivered if they fulfil the minimum requirements.

The original question:

"Is there an option for OEMs to re-release a new hardware version of an already existing device to include Thunderbolt Share? Any plans to 'upgrade' MTL devices that are already in market?"

The original answer:

"There's no limitation from Intel regarding potential licensing for PCs and/or accessories already shipping that meet the minimum supported requirements."

Header image: Intel

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