The PCI standards set deviates, taking the blame for melting GPU power connectors

Zoom in / Nvidia 12VHPWR Power Cable Adapter, as shipped with the RTX 4080.

Andrew Cunningham

Both Nvidia’s new RTX 4090 and 4080 GPUs use a new power connector called 12VHPWR as a way to satisfy more power-hungry graphics cards without having to devote the physical space required to three or four 8-pin power connectors. But this power connector and its specifications weren’t created by Nvidia alone—to ensure interoperability, the specification was developed jointly by PCI Express Special Interest Group (PCI-SIG), a body that includes Nvidia, AMD, Intel, Arm, IBM, Qualcomm, and others.

But the overheating and fusion issues that some RTX 4090 owners have been experiencing lately seem to have prompted PCI-SIG to spell it all out. Which Parts of the specifications are not responsible for. In a statement published by Tom’s Hardware, the group sent a reminder to its members that they, not PCI-SIG, are responsible for safety testing products using connector specifications such as 12VHPWR.

“Members are reminded that the PCI-SIG specification provides technical information necessary for interoperability and does not attempt to address appropriate design, manufacturing methods, materials, safety testing, safety tolerances, or manufacturing,” the statement reads. “When implementing the PCI-SIG specification, members are responsible for the design, manufacture, and testing, including safety testing, of their products.”

In other words: PCI-SIG tells companies how to make their 12VHPWR products work with other companies’ 12VHPWR products, but they are not involved in the manufacturing or safety testing of any specific 12VHPWR product. This statement appears designed to absolve PCI-SIG of any blame in the fusion power connector saga in light of a lawsuit that has been filed against Nvidia over the issue.

Testing from third parties and Nvidia indicates that the RTX 4090 GPU’s overheating power connectors are especially Due to user error rather than a fundamental design issue – in most cases overheating and melting connectors offered evidence that they were not fully inserted into the GPU’s 12VHPWR connector. This problem seems to affect All 12VHPWR cables, whether you use an adapter for 8-pin PCIe power cables or an original 12VHPWR cable that runs directly to your power supply, but also seems to be relatively rare.

However, manufacturers could build in more fail-safes to detect improper connections or make them more visible when a cable is fully inserted and when it isn’t – a larger connector helped with louder, easier-to-see retention clips 6 and 8. Power connectors avoid pin PCIe this kind of problem for years. We hope to see developments that help prevent this kind of user error, whether it comes from manufacturers or in the form of a specification change from PCI-SIG. The 12VHPWR connector will probably still be around, thanks to its inclusion in the Intel ATX 3.0 specification for PC power supplies.

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