PCI-SIG Tells GPU Makers to Improve Testing in Response to Nvidia 12VHPWR Lawsuit

Nvidia GeForce RTX 4090 with 16-pin adapter.
(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

The Peripheral Component Interconnect Special Interest Group, more colloquially known as PCI-SIG, has seemingly called out the companies selling products with the 16-pin 12VHPWR power connector, such as Nvidia's GeForce RTX 4090.

In a statement to members that was then forwarded to the press by the group's PR department, the group stated "one manufacturer has reported to PCI-SIG potential safety issues with its use of the 12VHPWR connection." It also mentions an ongoing lawsuit, Genova v. Nvidia Corporation, which alleges that the 16-pin cables are "melting … posing a serious electrical and fire hazard."

From there, the company sent out a lightly-worded slap on the wrist to anyone involved with producing or selling products with the 16-pin, 12VHPWR connector.

"PCI-SIG wishes to impress upon all Members that manufacture, market or sell PCI-SIG technologies (including 12VHPWR connections) of the need to take all appropriate and prudent measures to ensure end user safety, including testing for the reported problem cases involving consumers as alleged in the above-referenced lawsuit," the group wrote. "Members are reminded that PCI-SIG specifications provide necessary technical information for interoperability and do not attempt to address proper design, manufacturing methods, materials, safety testing, safety tolerances or workmanship. When implementing a PCI-SIG specification, Members are responsible for the design, manufacturing, and testing, including safety testing, of their products."

Nvidia

(Image credit: Nvidia)


On Nov. 18, Nvidia said it was aware of roughly 50 cases of 12VHPWR connectors on its cards melting worldwide. The company said it seemed that owners weren't fully plugging the connector into the graphics card, and that it was "investigating additional ways to ensure the connector is secure before powering on the graphics card" as well as expediting replacements for those affected.

The lawsuit, Genova v. Nvidia Corporation, was filed on November 11 as a class-action complaint in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California.

AMD, Nvidia's chief rival in the consumer GPU space, isn't using the 16-pin connectors on its upcoming Radeon RX 7000 cards, and has been using the melting incidents as a way to rib Nvidia.

It's not common that an organization like the PCI-SIG sends out a statement meant for members to the press. It's clear here that the group really wants to stay above the fray here, while also absolving itself from blame and trying to prevent any more possible trouble.

Andrew E. Freedman

Andrew E. Freedman is a senior editor at Tom's Hardware focusing on laptops, desktops and gaming. He also keeps up with the latest news. A lover of all things gaming and tech, his previous work has shown up in Tom's Guide, Laptop Mag, Kotaku, PCMag and Complex, among others. Follow him on Twitter: @FreedmanAE

  • RichardtST
    So, the PCI-SIG basically said "we just make the spec, it's your problem to make sure it is safe". That's just such an inane cya statement. The spec is clearly defective in this case. Nvidia is also liable because they ignored all the warning signs too. But PCI-SIG is not blameless here. Anyone with half a brain (or more!) can see that that connector is simply not capable of safely carrying that much current. The spec needs to be withdrawn and retracted. The responsible parties at PCI-SIG (and Nvidia) need to get the boot.
    Reply
  • YouFilthyHippo
    Look at those tiny little pins on that stupid thing. You aren't SAFELY jamming 600W through all those tiny little pins on one connector, not even close. There is a reason we had 8 pin connectors. The 8 pins leave much more headroom and are far safer. There is still plenty of PCB real estate to include 4 8-pins. This 12-pin garbage is just not happening. How did that connector even pass quality control? If someone offered me a 4090 for free, I wouldnt use it. I would off it for 80% MSRP and tell the buyer: You wanna burn your house down, you do you. It's just not worth the risk. Stop delaying the inevitable and quit being so stubborn. Just get the recall over with already so we can move on. Let it be a lesson learned. Stick with the 8-pins. Don't fix what ain't broken. I hope NVidia gets pummeled in this lawsuit. They deserve it for senselessly allowing the safety of their customers to be compromised
    Reply
  • InvalidError
    YouFilthyHippo said:
    Look at those tiny little pins on that stupid thing. You aren't SAFELY jamming 600W through all those tiny little pins on one connector, not even close.
    In one of GN's videos, they chopped off four out of the six 12V pins (only two pins left) and still couldn't get the connector to fail over 4+ hours of testing so the connector itself can actually handle 1200+W at 12V.
    Reply
  • helper800
    The materials science of the cable is solidly within margin for what it is designed to provide in wattage. What was up in the air with the connector was what was causing it to melt connectors. It was clear through GN's testing that the cable could handle the loads required of it, however, only when the cable is fully and properly seated in the port. There were many questions about what were essentially manufacturer defects that were left on the table as being a possible cause. It was quickly found that the cable itself was not inadequate for providing the power the cards required. This is also essentially vindication for JohnyGuru and his assertion that it was user error as a cause which was not plugging in the connector all the way. There were so many that called him an Nvidia shill and that he seppukued his reputation for Nvidia, shame on those who jumped to conclusions with no basis to do so.
    Reply
  • aberkae
    Like Steve at Gamer's Nexus said there should be a feedback from the system that should not allow a boot if the cable is not fully plugged in.
    Reply
  • hotaru251
    they just need make the system "check" if its fully seated
    or
    they need design the plug to not "clip" in unless its actually all the way in.


    but also lul at the blame game.
    Reply
  • PlaneInTheSky
    "the cables we sold are melting"meh, just ignore those customers

    "people are saying it's a fire hazard"meh

    "a cable actually caught fire"meh

    "someone started a lawsuit"ALL HANDS ON DECK. GET OUR LAWYERS. DENY EVERYTHING!
    SEND OUT A PRESS RELEASE "SAFETY IS OUR PRIORITY!"
    Reply
  • Amdlova
    InvalidError said:
    In one of GN's videos, they chopped off four out of the six 12V pins (only two pins left) and still couldn't get the connector to fail over 4+ hours of testing so the connector itself can actually handle 1200+W at 12V.
    With 1200w will you see the sun on this connector lol.
    Reply
  • BillyBuerger
    YouFilthyHippo said:
    ... There is a reason we had 8 pin connectors. The 8 pins leave much more headroom and are far safer. There is still plenty of PCB real estate to include 4 8-pins...

    Except that the 8-pin connectors only have 6 pins related to power. The other 2 are sense pins. Just like the 6-pin connector only has 4 power pins with 1 sense and 1 not connected (although usually connected to 12V). The 12VHPWR connector has 12 power pins + 4 sense pins. That's 2x the power pins of an 8-pin connector. Although that still means 2x the power per pin compared to 4x 8-pin connectors.

    But then the 8-pin EPS connector for CPUs is rated for almost 400W of power. So the 12VHPWR connector at 600W would be similar current per pin to EPS and EPS hasn't been a problem. They definitely are pushing the limits of these and using more pins would definitely lessen the impact to these issues. But I think the power per wire isn't so much the issue. Just apparently bad connector design making it too easy for them to not be fully seated.
    Reply
  • RodroX
    I still find funny how they blame the users, when before this 16 pin connector Ive never heard of anyone having melting issues when using 3x8Pins to power a big GPU (like many RTX 3090).

    So people were smart enough to plug 3 connectors, but now they became dumb and can't even plug 1 correctly?

    The connector is hard to plug and is hard to see if its done correctly. The board design and cooling system make it really hard to see if it was done right. And this is usually done inside a case, which make things a little bit harder.
    Reply