This connector will be the future of GPU power – 8-pin PCIe power is outdated

This connector will be the future of GPU power - 8-pin PCIe power is outdated

This connector will be the future of GPU power – 8-pin PCIe power is outdated

Today’s graphics cards can consume insane amounts of power. What’s worse is that GPUs are only set to become more power hungry, as both AMD and Nvidia are working on multi-die GPU architectures designed to deliver incredible performance levels and higher maximum power draws. 

Today, high-end graphics cards can feature up to three 8-pin PCIe power connectors, creating a cable management nightmare for PC builders and design challenges for GPU manufacturers, PSU makers, and case designers. Last week, we reported on a rumoured RTX 3090 Ti graphics card with a TDP of 450 watts, a graphics card that highlights why today’s 150W 8-pin PCIe power connectors are no longer fit for purpose. 

Nvidia’s rumoured RTX 3090 Ti graphics card reportedly featured a new 16-pin PCIe power connector (via Videocardz) that could handle the power draws of modern graphics cards. Igor’s Lab has since looked into this rumoured cable design and found a new connector type called “12VHPWR”. 

Why a new cable is necessary
 
Today’s 8-pin PCIe power cables can provide users with up to 150 watts of power per cable. In an era where modern high-end GPUs can consume over 400 watts of power, these cables are no longer enough to meet the requirements of modern PC hardware. The lacklustre power providing capacity of today’s cables has resulted in graphics cards that feature three 8-pin PCIe power connectors, creating a lot of unnecessary cable clutter wasted PCB space on modern hardware. 

Creating a higher capacity cable allows the industry to take a single cable approach to new high-end GPU/accelerator designs. This change will enable new GPUs to be powered by a single cable, reducing cable clutter and the design complexity of future graphics cards. 

It looks like Nvidia's working on an RTX 3090 Ti - A new RTX Flagship  
Meet the future of GPU power – 12VHPWR

With 12 power lines and four signal lines, the 12VHPWR cable is designed to deliver over 650 watts of power, which is more than enough to meet the needs of any modern graphics card. 

With cables from Amphenol, their 12VHPWR power lines are designed to handle 12V at 9.5 amps. Over 12 lines, this gives these cabled a maximum power capacity of 684 watts (9.5 x 12 x 6). The additional four pins in this cables design are for signalling. This cable is more effective than four 8-pin PCIe cables.

The power pins for these cables have a compact 3mm pitch, which is smaller than the 4.2 mm pitch of the power pins for today’s 6-pin and 8-pin PCIe cables. This fact makes the new 12VHPWR connector similar in size to today’s 8-pin PCIe power connectors, which is excellent news from a cable management standpoint. 

So, with this new power connector, up to four times as much power can be delivered within approximately the same form factor as today’s 8-pin PCIe power cables. That’s a huge design win. That said, the compact nature of this cable design will make things difficult for cable modders and custom cable makers like CableMod. 

 

    Amphenol ICC introduces the Gen 5, Minitek® Pwr PCIe® connector system. This new introduction CEM 5.0 PCI Express® 12VHPWR auxiliary hybrid connector and cable assembly support the 600W GPU cards. The 12VHPWR connector is not designed to mate with legacy PCI Express® 2×3 and 2×4 12V Auxiliary Power connectors. The 12VHPWR connector power pins have a 3.00mm pitch, while the contacts in a legacy 2×3 and 2×4 connector lie on a larger 4.20mm pitch. New PCIe® Connector System (CEM5) is designed for power applications with current rating upto 9.5A/pin (12 pins energized) and the 4 signal pins supporting signal transmission.

– Rated current up to 9.5A per contact with all 12 power contacts and 4 Signal contacts
– Fully isolated terminals
– Positive locking on housing with low thumb latch operation
– Low level contact resistance: 6m? max. 

  

This connector will be the future of GPU power - 8-pin PCIe power is outdated

Sadly, these new power connectors will require many PC builders to invest in new power supplies or in adaptors for their existing modular PSUs. That said, the alternative is to design and create power supplies with more and more 8-pin PCIe power connectors and force GPU manufacturers to focus more PCB space on power delivery. Neither option is ideal, though our preference is the single-cable option. 

You can join the discussion on the 12VHPWR connector for future high-end graphics cards on the OC3D Forums.