Intel this week announced plans to discontinue its first generation Thunderbolt 3 controllers it launched in 2015, coming as a consequence of an industry transition from leaded to lead-free components. The company has had newer controllers in its fleet for quite a while, so it should not be a problem for PC makers to switch to them as they migrate to newer Intel platforms, such as Cannon Lake or Coffee Lake.

Intel on Thursday published plans to discontinue its DSL6340 and DSL6540 TB3 controllers it released in Q3 2015. Intel’s customers should place their orders on the chips by February 2, 2018, and the final shipments will be made by August 3, 2018. Replacing the DSL chips, Intel is advising its customers to instead use the JHL6340 and the JHL6540 controllers that were launched back in Q2 2016.

At first glance, there is no difference between Intel's DSL- and JHL-series Thunderbolt 3 controllers: both belong to the Alpine Ridge family and even their power consumption is the same: 1.7 - 2.2 W depending on port configuration. Intel has also confirmed that the DSL- and JHL-series TB3 controllers are similar in terms of features and functionality: 6340 supports one Thunderbolt 3 port, whereas 6540 supports two Thunderbolt 3 ports, every TB3 chip carries two DP 1.2 streams and so on.

Intel's Thunderbolt 3 Controllers Codenamed Alpine Ridge
  DSL6240 DSL6340 DSL6540 JHL6340 JHL6540
Launch Date Q2 2016 Q3 2015 Q2 2016
TDP 1.2 W 1.7 W 2.2 W 1.7 W 2.2 W
Number of Ports 1 2 1 2
DisplayPort 1.2
Package Size 10.7 × 10.7 mm
Recommended Price $6.45 $8 $8.55 $8 $8.55

Meanwhile, there is a difference between how different families of Intel's Thunderbolt 3 controllers are made. The DSL-series controllers use a lead-containing solder alloy, whereas the JHL-series use a lead-free solder alloy based on tin, silver and copper (such alloys are called SAC - Sn, Ag, Cu). The European Union restricts the use of lead (as well as many other hazardous materials) because its fumes increase risk of lung and stomach cancer, along with the other known risks of lead exposure and heavy metals in general. So, as it appears, Intel is EOLing its first-gen Thunderbolt 3 controllers as part of the broader effort to phase out the use of lead in electronics products.

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Source: Intel

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  • BurntMyBacon - Monday, August 7, 2017 - link

    RoHS compliance dictates that Lead (Pb): < 1000 ppm. I have a hard time believing that they removed these because of lead in the solder. For reference, lead based solders are typically tin-lead alloy at a ratio of 60:40 or 63:37. Tin levels can vary between 5% and 70%, but even in the worst case, that leaves the alloy at 300000 ppm of lead by design.

    I think it is easier to believe that Intel is giving a "PR modified" excuse than that they are legitimately deprecating an RoHS compliant part for non-RoHS compliance reasons. (Unless of course the ARK page is wrong about RoHS, but they could get some pretty deep government fines for claiming RoHS compliance for non-compliant parts from more than a couple governments of the world.)
  • Yojimbo - Sunday, August 6, 2017 - link

    "An argument against RoHS due to longevity issues (mitigation of 'tin whiskers' in lead-free solder) I can get. Arguing against is as "but industrial use of Lead is totally not all that bad" is into clean-coal bonkers land. "

    I'm guessing hold opinions like these because you are not a numbers man.
  • DominionSeraph - Sunday, August 6, 2017 - link

    You don't even have corporate propaganda on your side, fool.
  • benzosaurus - Saturday, August 5, 2017 - link

    See, the problem with lead, much like asbestos, is not that it's hazardous to consumers. It's sealed inside the computer, and pretty much inert. The problem is that it's a big problem for production people-- huffing leaded solder for 12 hours a day, 6 days a week will screw you up pretty good. And while the tiny amounts in the solder aren't really that much of a problem, its use encourages lead mining, which can result in the release of huge amount of lead into the environment if they screw up.
  • Intervenator - Saturday, August 5, 2017 - link

    Exactly. There is also the problem of disposing of these materials. All the lead taken out of a stable location in the ground will not eventually find its way back. And how all of this is not required since there are safer alternatives. In my opinion, the less lead in circulation the better.
  • Yojimbo - Sunday, August 6, 2017 - link

    benzosaurus, a reasonable assumption but I think you are giving the regulatory bodies too much credit. They often don't deal in reason, they deal in perception. The perception is lead is bad and they look good for passing restrictions on it. I'd like to see data that supports that the automated factories where electronics are soldered become a health hazard for workers if lead solder is used.
  • Drachasor - Monday, August 7, 2017 - link

    And your evidence they don't deal with science and reason?

    Oh that's right, you have none! You're just making grand pronouncements based on nothing. You also ignore all the times the government says "X is safe." But facts aren't your strong suite, obviously.

    You can pretend to like science all you want. But in reality you just like science that you aren't ideologically opposed to. Lame.
  • Yojimbo - Sunday, August 6, 2017 - link

    As far as lead mining, that doesn't seem like a good argument. There's nothing wrong with encouraging lead mining. Lots of things can cause problems "if they screw up."
  • alphasquadron - Sunday, August 6, 2017 - link

    "Someone can grab control of the money and the message and make the uncertain seem certain."

    While true, you have to understand that you stating this will make no difference. There will always be stupid people in the world to deceive as it has been in the past and will be in the future.
  • coolhardware - Sunday, August 6, 2017 - link

    TLDR: if you reduce the demand for lead, you reduce the amount of lead that has to be mined and that humans are eventually exposed to.

    Dear Yojimbo and others, while I agree that lead in electronics may not be immediately harmful I believe you are missing some important points. The mining and transportation of toxic materials (like lead) can be very harmful to humans. Likewise, the eventual disposal of electronics with toxic materials is also a serious issue.

    I grew up in an area where lead mining killed and harmed thousands of residents. It is very sad to see children and adults affected by toxic materials and the legacy of that harm lives on today. It did not matter whether the victims were conservative or liberal, democrats or republicans, they were all affected.

    Lead mining is dangerous industry that has resulted in economic ruin for the communities that were polluted by lead. It has also incurred immense costs (both in money and health) for those directly involved as well as those who merely unfortunate enough to live in the vicinity. I am very glad that other less toxic materials are being used in place of lead and I applaud efforts to replace toxic materials with safer options when possible.

    Please do not equate the desire to reduce toxic material usage as an overreaction. Thank you for your consideration.

    PS for those interested in the danger of lead, Wikipedia is a decent place to start:
    "Lead is a highly poisonous metal (whether inhaled* or swallowed), affecting almost every organ and system in the human body. At airborne levels of 100 mg/m3, it is immediately dangerous to life and health."

    *People in my area were severely affected by the dust coming off of lead transportation trucks.... they certainly didn't have to touch it or handle it.

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