The 'new' 12-PIN power connector for graphics cards

Nvidia RTX 3080 rumoured to use the new 12-pin connector to draw power

Nvidia is allegedly preparing to launch the RTX 30 Ampere series GPUs in August, likely with RTX 3080 and RTX 3080 Ti. Based on the leaks, PR interaction and also its not-so-incognito plan to discontinue four of its RTX 20 series graphics cards is a dead giveaway. ASUS has a non-reference design under its drawing board that was also leaked. Nvidia’s Founders Edition cooler for the RTX 30 series was the worst kept secret. It is said that Nvidia RTX 3080 will have a TDP higher than 300W. Hence, Nvidia will allegedly have to use the all-not-new 12pin interface for the graphics cards.

Not a lot of information is available for the new interface, except that a single connector can supply 600w. It also requires power supply makers to only use 20AWG wiring for these connectors to meet the power specifications. For now, let us take this development with a bag of pink salt.

The ‘new’ 12pin interface design

It is likely to be using a 12pin interface that’s already manufactured and in use for some applications. Molex makes interface for anything that needs one and not limited to power supplies. It is just that it is going used for a PC power supplies for the first time. Molex does have a similar connector with the same width as the 6+2 pin but with more pins.

Its called ‘Micro-Fit 3.0 Receptacle Housing, Dual Row with 12 Circuits’. The documentation and other details can be found here. A single cable which can supply 600w will help to keep clutter down as many upper range non-reference graphics cards dual 6+2 pin or 6+2 and 4+2 pin to power one of each.

So, if the ETX 3080 has 300TDP, encouraging Nvidia to use the 12pin interface, what about the RTX 3080 Ti?

How will PSU makers have this available for existing users?

It will be interesting to see how power supply manufacturers respond to this. Maybe they’ll sell 12-pin modular cables for selected power supplies as an add-on? As of now, there’s nothing from either Nvidia or power supply makers.  If it is true, we’ll just have to see how PSU makers plan to execute this. I’ve asked a couple of power supply makers if they can confirm on the record.

The timing seems exotic considering we should be seeing a range of 12v-only PC power supplies to California’s power regulations. Intel already published the 12VXO power supply specification standard on May 2020 and I think one manufacturer showcased one 12v unit at CES2020.

EDIT 17.07.2020 IST:

For some reason, the original source backed down from its report, claiming that they made it all up. At the same time, Tom’s Hardware was able to provide more information about its findings, reinvigorating the original report.

As said by Toms Hardware, the new 12pin PCIe power connector essentially combines two 6+2 connectors with a different pin layout- six 12v pins and six ground pins. Each pin provides 9A, theoretically providing power up to 648W. This is extremely significant since the PCIe x16 slow and the six-pin PCIe connector provides power up to 75 watts, while the 8 pin provides 150w.

As speculated earlier, it will be easy for power supplies to sell aftermarket 12-pin PCIe cable for its existing variants of modular/ semi-modular power supplies. It is uncertain if power supply makers will provide a dual-6+2 pin to 12pin adapter- or if it is safe to use so. Traditionally, its best to avoid adapters for power supplies.

As of now, this will only be used in the RTX 30 series Ampere graphics card. We’ll just have to see if non-reference makers use this as well. Some AIC makers still provide adapters, usually the most useless dual-molex to 6+2 adapter. So if AIC partners use this connector standard, maybe they’ll provide something? But it is best to look out for a cable to connect from the source, first. Ask your power supply makers for more information

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