PCIe 5.0 power connector provides up to 600W for next-gen AMD and Nvidia GPUs

As graphics cards are more and more power hungry, the need to develop a new power connector arises. Igor’s Lab has shared schematics of a high power PCIe power connector designed for PCIe 5.0. The power connector could make its debut with the next generation of AMD and Nvidia graphics cards.

The 12VHPWR power connector consists of 16 pins in total, four more than Nvidia’s 12-pin PCIe power connector. It looks like the chipmaker was onto something or somehow anticipated the direction the PCIe power connectors were going. With the 12VHPWR power connector, there are 12 power contacts with four smaller signal contacts at the bottom of the connector. At the moment it is not known what the signal contacts are for.

The 12VHPWR power connector is said to be designed for PCIe 5.0 graphics cards and is not backward compatible with previous generation graphics cards. This new connector aims to eliminate the use of multiple PCIe power connectors and reduce cable clutter in the process. Instead of providing graphics cards with up to three 8-pin PCIe power connectors, manufacturers can simply implement a single 12VHPWR power connector.

According to the technical drawings, the 12VHPWR power connector does not meet the MicroFit Molex standard. The power pins are spaced 3mm apart while the pitch of the existing 6 and 8 pin PCIe connectors is 4.2mm. It’s 18.85mm long, so it’s not exactly a small connector. However, it certainly takes up less space than three 8-pin PCIe power connectors. By comparison, the 12VHPWR power connector is only slightly shorter than Nvidia’s 12-pin PCIe power connector, which is 19mm long.

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Minitek Pwr CEM-5 PCIe Connector System

Minitek Pwr CEM-5 PCIe Connector System (Image credit: Amphenol ICC)
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Minitek Pwr CEM-5 PCIe Connector System

Minitek Pwr CEM-5 PCIe Connector System (Image credit: Amphenol ICC)

Each power contact is rated at 9.2A, delivering up to 55.2A of continuous power through a 12V rail. Theoretically, the 12VHPWR power connector is good up to 662.4W. However, it officially supports up to 600W. Amphenol ICC (via Olrak) has already listed the 12VHPWR power connector, which the brand dubbed the “Minitek Pwr CEM-5 PCIe Connector System”. The company specified 9.5 A per power contact, which is slightly higher than Igor’s information.

Amphenol ICC has confirmed that the connector is designed for 600W graphics cards. He didn’t specify whether these are gaming or data center graphics cards. However, the company listed AI and cloud, game consoles, GUI, networking, server and storage as potential target markets for the connector.

With Ampere, Nvidia pushed the 12-pin PCIe power connector, but it never caught on. Only the Founders Edition used this connector. Chipmaker partners still preferred standard 6-pin and 8-pin PCIe power connectors for their custom Ampere offerings. The introduction of 12VHPWR power connectors will be troublesome for power supply manufacturers. They will either have to design new products that come with the 12VHPWR power connector or provide an adapter to existing owners.

It’s a shame that the graphics card seems to be going the other way instead of becoming more power efficient. The GeForce RTX 3090 has already brought us to the 350W threshold with some custom models hitting the 450W mark. The existence of the 12VHPWR power connectors hints that future graphics cards could be even more power hungry. Let’s just hope the connector’s 600W is just overkill and vendors won’t have to use its maximum capacity on a consumer graphics card.

Alan A. Seibert