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Intel’s Thunderbolt Share Links Multiple PCs Together Sans KVM
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Intel’s Thunderbolt Share Links Multiple PCs Together Sans KVM

by Low Boon ShenMay 17, 2024
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Intel’s Thunderbolt Share Links Multiple PCs Together Sans KVM

Intel's Thunderbolt Share Links Multiple PCs Together Sans KVM

You may have wondered at some point, “If we can transfer files via a USB drive, what’s stopping two PCs from physically connecting each other with a USB cable?” The short answer is, that USB’s design simply doesn’t allow it because of its master/slave configuration, so having two PCs will confuse the system as to which device is calling the shots.

However such limitations are somewhat alleviated via KVM switches, though setting it up is admittedly a cumbersome process. Enter Intel’s new Thunderbolt Share feature, and it functions like how you’d imagine: just plug both devices with the same Thunderbolt cable, and you’re set. There are a few ways you can bridge two PCs together, such as directly connecting two PCs to each other, connecting both PCs via a Thunderbolt dock, or through a Thunderbolt-supported monitor.

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The process isn’t done yet – you’ll need to install the Thunderbolt Share app on both devices to start the PC-to-PC communication. Here, you have a few options: control the other PC (like how KVM works), transfer files, or even share the display across another system. One neat feature is the “transfer data” option which is functionally similar to the file transfer wizard you’ll find in smartphones during the setup process.

While this sounds pretty neat on paper, there’s one big hurdle that’ll ultimately hinder this feature’s widespread adoption, and it’s the rarity of Thunderbolt-supported PCs and devices. Furthermore, Intel has published a new certification (accompanied by a new logo below) for Thunderbolt Share-certified PCs and accessories, which potentially makes even fewer devices officially support this feature.

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That being said, Intel claims that any PCs with Thunderbolt 4 or 5 ports should support this feature. Naturally, that eliminates all AMD systems from the equation, short for a small number of devices featuring Thunderbolt ports – usually reserved for high-end motherboards. New AMD laptops have all adopted the USB4 standard, which is not quite the same thing as Thunderbolt 4 despite the similarities.

And then there’s the elephant in the room: you need a Thunderbolt-certified cable to even utilize this feature. These cables are ridiculously expensive compared to a regular USB-C cable, so unless you happen to own a cable bundled from another Thunderbolt-supported device (say, Apple Pro Display XDR), you’re most likely going to stick to a KVM switch that costs less. Speaking of which, you won’t find this feature on Apple devices, making this a Windows-only feature.

Source: PCMag

Pokdepinion: I think this will only find a very niche use case at best – the cost is simply too high for most people. Like, RM200+ for just a cable?

About The Author
Low Boon Shen
Is technology powered by a series of tubes?