Thursday, July 16th 2020

The Curious Case of the 12-pin Power Connector: It's Real and Coming with NVIDIA Ampere GPUs

Over the past few days, we've heard chatter about a new 12-pin PCIe power connector for graphics cards being introduced, particularly from Chinese language publication FCPowerUp, including a picture of the connector itself. Igor's Lab also did an in-depth technical breakdown of the connector. TechPowerUp has some new information on this from a well placed industry source. The connector is real, and will be introduced with NVIDIA's next-generation "Ampere" graphics cards. The connector appears to be NVIDIA's brain-child, and not that of any other IP- or trading group, such as the PCI-SIG, Molex or Intel. The connector was designed in response to two market realities - that high-end graphics cards inevitably need two power connectors; and it would be neater for consumers to have a single cable than having to wrestle with two; and that lower-end (<225 W) graphics cards can make do with one 8-pin or 6-pin connector.

The new NVIDIA 12-pin connector has six 12 V and six ground pins. Its designers specify higher quality contacts both on the male and female ends, which can handle higher current than the pins on 8-pin/6-pin PCIe power connectors. Depending on the PSU vendor, the 12-pin connector can even split in the middle into two 6-pin, and could be marketed as "6+6 pin." The point of contact between the two 6-pin halves are kept leveled so they align seamlessly.
As for the power delivery, we have learned that the designers will also specify the cable gauge, and with the right combination of wire gauge and pins, the connector should be capable of delivering 600 Watts of power (so it's not 2*75 W = 150 W), and not a scaling of 6-pin. Igor's Lab published an investigative report yesterday with some numbers on cable gauge that helps explain how the connector could deliver a lot more power than a combination of two common 6-pin PCIe connectors.

Looking at the keying, we can see that it will not be possible to connect two classic six-pins to it. For example pin 1 is square on the PCIe 6-pin, but on NVIDIA's 12-pin is has one corner angled. It also won't be possible to use weird combinations like 8-pin + EPS 4 pin, or similar—NVIDIA made sure people won't be able to connect their cables the wrong way.

On topic of the connector's proliferation, in addition to PSU manufacturers launching new generations of products with 12-pin connectors, most prominent manufacturers are expected to release aftermarket modular cables that can plug in to their existing PSUs. Graphics card vendors will include ketchup-and-mustard adapters that convert 2x 8-pin to 1x 12-pin; while most case/power manufacturers will release fancy aftermarket adapters with better aesthetics.

Update 08:37 UTC: I made an image in Photoshop to show the new connector layout, keying and voltage lines in a single, easy to understand graphic.
Sources: FCPowerUp (photo), Igor's Lab
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175 Comments on The Curious Case of the 12-pin Power Connector: It's Real and Coming with NVIDIA Ampere GPUs

#51
BoboOOZ
W1zzard
Also I'm highly skeptical how they plan on cooling 400+ W cards. Good 2080 Tis are like 35 dBA at 350 W, I'm not sure if I would buy a $1000+ card that's not quiet and that heats up my room like crazy, even if it can run 4K 120 Hz
For an expensive card, liquid cooling should be q perfectly acceptable option. But it will still warm up your room nicely...
Posted on Reply
#52
W1zzard
BoboOOZ
For an expensive card, liquid cooling should be q perfectly acceptable option. But it will still warm up your room nicely...
Not sure, seems the market isn't buying cards with bulky water cooling radiators. RMA rates could also eat up the small profits board partners have in this business.
Posted on Reply
#53
TheDeeGee
Lucky i'm only getting a RTX 3060 and can do with a single 8-pin (probaby).
Posted on Reply
#54
BoboOOZ
W1zzard
Not sure, seems the market isn't buying cards with bulky water cooling radiators. RMA rates could also eat up the small profits board partners have in this business.
Well, sooner or later they will have to come with a solution for this.
Die sizes for GPUs are much larger than die sizes for CPUs, so either the manufacturers will have to keep leaving performance on the table (but if the competition is animated, I have a hard time imagining that they will) or they will have to come with even better coolers. And given the form aspect of graphic cards, AIO coolers seems like a simpler option than doing 3-4 slot graphic cards with air coolers.
Posted on Reply
#55
W1zzard
BoboOOZ
Die sizes for GPUs are much larger than die sizes for CPUs
That's actually an interesting point, with 7 nm, die sizes will be smaller = higher heat density
BoboOOZ
AIO coolers seems like a simpler option than doing 3-4 slot graphic cards with air coolers
I was reasonably happy with the ASUS 2080 Ti Matrix, but not convinced this is ready for a million unit per year market
Posted on Reply
#56
ZoneDymo
would it not be nicer if the next high end gpu's were so efficient we could just go back to a single 6pin connector or so?
Posted on Reply
#57
kiriakost
According to latest information's regarding female Pin development , while basic Molex this can do 9A max, the newest ones are made to deliver 12A as Max.
By this information now we may make our math about Max current transfer per plug.
But the very truth this is that industry this cares to level up the average constant current transfer and this should be 30% lower than the Max for safety reasons.
Posted on Reply
#58
BoboOOZ
ZoneDymo
would it not be nicer if the next high end gpu's were so efficient we could just go back to a single 6pin connector or so?
I used to have a passive cooled Geforce 2 MX. It probably drew 10 watts or something. We're not getting back to that, GPU's are packing more and more transistors, so you cannot reduce power draw unless you're also drastically reducing clock speeds.

BTW, that's something you can do very well yourself, my 5700XT runs mostly passively cooled at 120W.
Posted on Reply
#59
Vayra86
Vya Domus
Funny how when AMD has a power hungry GPU every one thinks power consumption is everything but when Nvidia hints at an upcoming power hungry atrocity everyone's cool with it.
You're on a roll aren't you? Let's just watch the dust settle and not jump on every photoshop whackjob that flies around the net...
Posted on Reply
#60
kayjay010101
BoboOOZ
Well, sooner or later they will have to come with a solution for this.
Die sizes for GPUs are much larger than die sizes for CPUs, so either the manufacturers will have to keep leaving performance on the table (but if the competition is animated, I have a hard time imagining that they will) or they will have to come with even better coolers. And given the form aspect of graphic cards, AIO coolers seems like a simpler option than doing 3-4 slot graphic cards with air coolers.
Can't wait until reference cards start shipping as hybrids like the Fury X did. Costs a bit more and takes up at least one fan slot but it cools so much better than air cooling.
Posted on Reply
#61
RH92
Ehhhhhhhhhhhhhh .........

[MEDIA=twitter]1283502759292162051[/MEDIA]
TPU should at the very least check what the Chinese text says instead of running with whatever BS leak comes to their hands , just saying !
Posted on Reply
#62
EarthDog
RH92
TPU should at the very least check what the Chinese text says instead of running with whatever BS leak comes to their hands , just saying !
But........... "sources". Time will tell. But if W1z says he has a source... I believe that... however not that the source is or is not right. :)
Posted on Reply
#63
Vya Domus
Vayra86
You're on a roll aren't you?
Indeed, I can't help but notice these things.
BoboOOZ
Die sizes for GPUs are much larger than die sizes for CPUs
Intel is still making chips right up to their reticle limit and that's likely not going to change.
Posted on Reply
#64
BoboOOZ
W1zzard
I was reasonably happy with the ASUS 2080 Ti Matrix, but not convinced this is ready for a million unit per year market
Haven't seen that card (a bit above my budget :) ) but the cooling solution is really smart. All you need is good airflow inside the case.
Posted on Reply
#65
RH92
EarthDog
But........... "sources". Time will tell. But if W1z says he has a source... I believe that... however not that the source is or is not right. :)
Thing is the ''source'' everyone who covered this BS leak is using is precisely the Chinese text you see in that tweet so yeah , theres that . This article isn't made by W1z .
Posted on Reply
#66
Recus
So how you connect in PSU? Also rumor says 12pin only for Founder's Edition.

Posted on Reply
#67
lexluthermiester
What's the point of this new connector? 6+6 or 8+6 isn't good enough? Even 8+8? This doesn't compute. I don't care what NVidia's reasonings are, this a change that has no logic. Hopefully this is just rumor..
Posted on Reply
#68
iO
Nah. Nvidia might suggest using a new plug in a future PCIe spec revision but unless it gets approved by the PCI-SIG and becomes part of the official spec, chances are slim this will end up real.
Posted on Reply
#69
Legacy-ZA
W1zzard
Not sure, seems the market isn't buying cards with bulky water cooling radiators. RMA rates could also eat up the small profits board partners have in this business.
"Small profits" Bwhawhahahahahaha! Good one.
Posted on Reply
#70
W1zzard
Legacy-ZA
"Small profits" Bwhawhahahahahaha! Good one.
"board partners". GPU makers are keeping the big profits, guys like ASUS, MSI are barely making any profit after RMA, support and marketing
Posted on Reply
#71
Vya Domus
W1zzard
MSI are barely making any profit after RMA
I somehow find that hard to believe for a company with a market cap of 100 billion.
Posted on Reply
#72
W1zzard
Vya Domus
I somehow find that hard to believe for a company with a market cap of 100 billion.
TWD
Posted on Reply
#73
Vya Domus
W1zzard
TWD
Yeah I realized that, still, they aren't exactly small.
Posted on Reply
#74
BoboOOZ
Check out Gamer's Nexus videos, you will understand margins are smaller and smaller for partners. I think the situation was different 15 years ago, that's why there was way more innovation in the graphic cards. Nowadays all graphic cards are practically the same, give or take a few MHz here and there and a more/less accomplished cooling solution.
Posted on Reply
#75
Vya Domus
What you also need to understand is margins and volume shipped. Amazon has measly margins too but what do you know they are one of the largest or maybe the largest company out there.
Posted on Reply
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