PCI Express Gen 5 power connector leaks, delivers up to 600W

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It’s no secret that the latest graphics cards from AMD and especially Nvidia are power-hungry beasts. Everything indicates that next-generation GPUs will be even more greedy. With rumors that both companies are looking to nearly double their cards’ power requirements for their upcoming offerings, and with PCI Express 5.0 looming on the horizon, information has leaked on how we’ll be able to power these gigantic GPUs without having to run three or more of the current PCIe 4.0 cables to the card. Leaks show Intel’s new specification for a PCIe 5.0 power connector that’s drastically different from the current 8-pin connector, and eerily similar to Nvidia’s “custom” 12-pin connector that it included with its Founder’s boards. Edition of the RTX 30 series.

According to the detailed specs posted on Twitter by Momomo_US via Techpowerup, which they claim comes from Intel’s ATX 3.0 design guide, the documentation shows a new PCIe Gen 5 12VHPWR (12 Volt High Power) connector for next-gen graphics cards. Unlike the current “dumb” connector, this new cable sports a 16-pin configuration, with 12 power pins and four “sideband” pins allowing communication between the power supply and the graphics card to determine power requirements. Based on this communication, which is established via the state of the binary switches, the four difference cables will allow either 150W, 300W, 450W or 600W at its maximum. This allows for a modest increase in total power available to GPUs over PCIe Gen 4, which offers 150W per 8-pin connector and 75W from the slot itself. For some massive GPUs that required three 8-pin connectors (450W total), plus slot power, you have a total of 525W, so this new connector gives you 75W more power, but with the huge advantage of doing it all along one cable instead of three.

This slide clearly shows the 12 pins for power and the 4 pins for communication below. (Picture: Momomo_US)

With even current-gen GPUs like the RTX 3090 pushing 350W, and rumors that the next Ti version will bump up to 400W at least, we are already quite close to reaching the limits of the current standard. That’s why Nvidia included a 12-pin connector for its current GPUs. This connector requires two 8-pin cables, which offered a total of 375W of power, but even that clearly won’t be enough for future GPUs.

Reportedly, Nvidia’s next-gen will be an absolute monster, which could require over 800W of power for the flagship model. It seems unlikely, but recent leaks indicate that Nvidia will pack almost double the number of CUDA cores into its next AD102 die. It will be interesting to see if this single 600W cable is enough.

Of course, to take advantage of this, you’ll need the appropriate connectors on your PCIe 5.0-capable power supply, of which there are only a handful at present. Gamers have also grown accustomed to using only 750W and 800W power supplies for each generation of GPUs in the past, as this has always been sufficient, but this may no longer be the case when AMD’s RDNA3 series and RTX 40 from Nvidia will arrive in the fall. These new GPUs are expected to all be PCIe 5.0 cards, so we’ll all have to consider upgrading our PSUs at the same time. However, as Videocardz notes, this does not rule out the use of some type of adapter.

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Alan A. Seibert