2016 MacBook Pros may not be compatible with currently available Thunderbolt 3 devices

After a battery of tests with their current lineup of USB-C and Thunderbolt products, Plugable learned that Apple’s newest MacBook Pros may not be compatible with currently available Thunderbolt 3 devices. This issue seems to specifically stem from the use of Texas Instruments controller chips in the Thunderbolt 3 devices. If true, this means that has Apple potentially shut out early adopters of the new technology.

Plugable had began running tests of their USB-C and Thunderbolt products and realized that their Thunderbolt 3 peripherals were no longer compatible with Apple’s latest MacBook Pro. It appears that using the currently available Texas Instruments controller chips in Thunderbolt 3 devices  are incompatible with the newest MacBook Pro. In light of the news, Plugable has postponed their Thunderbolt 3 docking station as they evaluate the next steps.

Update 11/1/16: Apple has chosen to prevent Thunderbolt 3 devices using currently available controller chips from Texas Instruments from enumerating and functioning on the 2016 MacBook Pros. All current Thunderbolt 3 peripherals which use this controller chip are incompatible with the new 2016 Thunderbolt 3 MacBooks (To our knowledge, this includes all currently available Thunderbolt 3 devices including our TBT3-DP2X and TBT3-HDMI2X graphics adapters. Our Thunderbolt 3 cables do not require this chip, and therefore are compatible.)

Because of this, we’ve made the difficult decision to postpone our TBT3-UD1 Docking Station as we evaluate what is necessary to make this docking station MacBook-compatible. Our Flagship TBT3-UDV dock with Power Delivery/Charging is using the next generation controller chip from TI, and will be compatible with the 2016 Thunderbolt 3 MacBooks.

We’ll continue to post updates with new Thunderbolt™ 3 product and release information as it becomes available.

– Plugable

Just today we shared OWC’s announcement of a new Thunderbolt 3 dock, but because of the February 2017 ship date it could be possible that they have opted to use another controller chip or just won’t be affected.

We’ve reached out to Apple for further comment and will update when we hear something.

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