Crisis Avoided – AMD once planned to add 12VHPWR connectors to their latest GPUs

Crisis Avoided - AMD once planned to add 12VHPWR connectors to their latest GPUs

AMD were planning to add 12VHPWR to their Radeon RX 7800 XT and RX 7700 XT GPUs, but the idea was dropped

In an interview with Club386, AMD’s Scott Herkleman confirmed that the company once considered using the controversial 12VHPWR connector on their Radeon RX 7800 XT and RX 7700 XT graphics cards, but that they purposefully decided to avoid the new connector to prevent any possible issues with end users. 

Nvidia’s high-end RTX 40 series graphics cards almost exclusively use the new 12VHPWR connector, which is designed to deliver up to 600 watts of power to connected graphics cards using a single cable. While this is an impressive feat, it was quickly discovered that some RTX 4090 graphics cards were having their 12VHPWR connectors burn out, with the problem eventually being attributed to improper cable connections. If a 12VHPWR connector is not fully inserted, the connector can heat up and melt, causing damage to the user’s graphics card, cables, or even their power supply.

12VHPWR cable issues have been widely attributed to user error, but the flaw that enables this error is a design issue. Nvidia are already shipping new graphics cards with modified 12VHPWR connectors that avoid this flaw, confirming that the flaw is something that can be fixed with minor connector tweaks.

AMD’s stance on 12VHPWR

When speaking to Club386, AMD’s Scott Herkleman stated that “You shouldn’t blame end users for issues you have”, and that AMD do not plan to implement 12VHPWR style power connectors onto their graphics cards until “there’s good confidence that it’s working correctly for end users”. If 12VHPWR’s flaws are addressed, AMD will be happy to utilise the connector in their future products, but until then, AMD plans to stick with traditional power connectors. 

Below is what Herkleman said to Club386 regarding the 12VHPWR connector.

    Club386: Still no sign of 12VHPWR on any Radeon graphics card. Is this a burning issue for you?

Scott Herkleman: We specifically, for 7900 Series, and even 7600, we didn’t plan on the new power cable, but 7800 and 7700 did have a plan for it. We removed it, and that was a purposeful removal. You shouldn’t blame end users for issues you have. You should catch and own any problems, just like we did with the vapour-chamber issue. I was all over social media because I felt like it was AMD’s problem and I was going to own it.

Until this power issue is cleaned up and there’s good confidence it’s working correctly for end users, that’s where you’ll start to see us incorporate it into our planning. The ability for someone to say it’s an end-user’s fault is a little strange to AMD and definitely strange to me.

Crisis Avoided - AMD once planned to add 12VHPWR connectors to their latest GPUs

(Scott Herkelman revealing AMD’s Radeon RX 7800 XT at Gamescom 2023)

Recent months have seen reports of melting or burning 12VHPWR connectors become a lot less frequent, and this is due to two factors. First, most PC builders now know that 12VHPWR connectors can be inserted incorrectly, which has led to more PC builders avoiding this mistake, and second, mewer RTX 40 series graphics cards are shipping with 12VHPWR connector terminals that are designed to not function if not fully inserted. These two factors combined makes 12VHPWR cable related issues a non factor for many PC builders, but risks remain for older GPUs with standard, unfixed, 12VHPWR connectors.

The 12VHPWR standard’s problems can be fixed with relatively minor changes, and it is probable that AMD will utilise a newer form of the 12VHPWR connector to power future Radeon graphics cards. Once AMD are confident that 12VHPWR style power connectors are safe, they will start using them with future high-end GPUs.

You can join the discussion on AMD cancelling their plans to add 12VHPWR connectors to their Radeon RX 7800 XT and RX 7700 XT GPUs on the OC3D Forums.