PCI Express Gen 5 Power Connector Leaks, Offers up to 600W

It’s no secret that the latest graphics cards from AMD and especially Nvidia are power-hungry beasts. All indications are the next-gen GPUs will be even hungrier. With rumors that both companies are looking to almost double their cards’ power requirements for their next offerings, and with PCI Express 5.0 looming on the horizon, some news has leaked about how we will be able to power these gigantic GPUs without having to run three or more of the current PCIe 4.0 cables to the card. The leaks show Intel’s new specification for a PCIe 5.0 power connector that’s radically different from the current 8-pin connector, and strangely similar to Nvidia’s “custom” 12-pin connector that it included with its RTX 30-series Founder’s Edition cards.

According to the detailed specifications posted on Twitter by Momomo_US via Techpowerup, which they note are from Intel’s ATX 3.0 Design Guide, the documentation shows a new 12VHPWR (12-Volt High Power) PCIe Gen 5 connector for next-gen graphics cards. Unlike the current “dumb” connector, this new cable sports a 16-pin configuration, with 12-pins supplying power and four “sideband” pins allowing communication between the power supply and the graphics card for determining power requirements. Based on this communication, which is established via the state of binary switches, the four difference cables will allow either 150W, 300W, 450W, or 600W at its peak. This allows for a modest bump in total power available for GPUs compared to 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 the power from the slot, you have a total of 525W, so this new connector gets you 75W more power total but with the huge benefit of doing it all through one cable instead of three.

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

With even current-gen GPUs like the RTX 3090 pushing 350W, and rumors that the upcoming Ti version will bump that 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. That connector requires two 8-pin cables, which offered a total of 375W of power, but even that clearly won’t be enough for the upcoming GPUs.

According to some sources, Nvidia’s next-gen is rumored to be absolute monsters, which may require over 800W of power for the flagship model. That seems unlikely, however recent leaks indicate Nvidia is going to be packing almost double the number of CUDA cores into their upcoming AD102 die. It’ll be interesting to see if this single 600W cable is sufficient.

Of course, to take advantage of this you will need the appropriate connectors on your PCIe 5.0 ready power supply, of which there are only a handful right now. Gamers have also gotten used to just using 750W and 800W power supplies for every generation of GPU in the past, as it’s always been sufficient, but that might no longer be the case when AMD’s RDNA3 and Nvidia’s RTX 40-series arrive in the fall. It’s expected that these new GPUs will all be PCIe 5.0 cards, so we might all have to consider upgrading our PSUs at the same time. However, as Videocardz notes, that does not rule out the use of some kind of adapter.

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