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Vendors Prep ATX12VO Motherboards Ahead of Intel 12th Gen Alder Lake Release

Corsair
(Image credit: Corsair)

When Intel introduced its ATX12VO (12 volts only) power connector specification last year, it only got support from a small number of motherboard and power supply manufacturers. A year later, the situation among motherboards is looking better. That's good news for Intel's upcoming 12th Gen Alder Lake CPUs, which should arrive for desktop PCs by early 2022.

State of the ATX12VO Union

Intel formally introduced its ATX12VO spec on April 30, 2020. Meant to cut down on idle desktop power, the power connector was initially supported by ASRock with its Z490 Phantom Gaming 4SR motherboard and High Power with its HP1-P650GD-F12S power supply. While Intel also talked about  PSU support from Corsair, Channel Well and FSP, (which actually demonstrated an ATX12VO PSU at CES 2020), those power supplies never hit retail

This week, overclocker Roman "der8auer" Hartung asked several makers of the best motherboards and best power supplies about their plans to support ATX12VO this year. ASRock revealed that it's about to release its Z590 Pro 12VO motherboard. And as noted by German tech site HardwareLuxx today, Asus already has a version of its Prime Z490-S with an ATX12VO connector. The enthusiast's video also pointed to Asus working on an ATX12VO motherboard. 

Meanwhile, Gigabyte and MSI have not made any comments regarding their ATX12VO motherboard plans.  

Of course, Intel's partners are keen on staying mum on future plans regarding the unreleased Alder Lake platform. However, a rumor last week pointed to Intel pushing motherboard makers to adopt ATX12VO for the platform's upcoming LGA1700 motherboards. 

On the PSU side of matters, Seasonic told der8auer that it has already developed its Focus GX650 that complies with Intel's ATX12VO requirements, and other models are awaiting Intel's certification. Corsair, which sometimes sells Seasonic-made power supplies, also indicated plans to release a Corsair-branded ATX12VO PSU. In the meantime, those who already have an ATX12VO motherboard and a standard PSU can use Corsair's ATX12VO adapter cable.

Useful Tech or Much Ado About Nothing?

The single-rail ATX12VO power delivery standard is appealing for a few reasons. First, the new ATX12VO connector is smaller, which is important for modern ultra-compact form-factor (UCFF) PCs. 

Second, the most power-hungry components today only use 12V rails; whereas many of those that need 5V and 3.3V either have their own power circuitry (for example, M.2 SSDs) or can use DC-to-DC converters that are now sometimes located inside PSUs (but which could be re-located to the motherboard). That means transitioning to ATX12VO could simplify PSUs and potentially make them cheaper. 

Next, conversion of 12V to 5V and 3.3V on motherboards is said to be more power-efficient, so ATX12VO is expected to reduce desktop PCs' power consumption. 

From an environmental point of view, every watt counts, so as various government regulations get stricter, it makes sense for pre-built PCs to identify paths to efficiency. Usage of 80Plus Titanium or 80Plus Platinum-badged PSUs is expensive, so ATX12VO seems like a potential way for OEMs to reduce power consumption of their low-end and midrange PCs.  

Yet, the industry is not eager to transit to ATX12VO. For one, moving DC-to-DC converters to the motherboard won't radically reduce power consumption of a PC. Unless someone runs millions of PCs, 4-5W savings aren't significant. 

On top of that, adding converters to motherboards increases their overall footprint and bill-of-materials (BOM) cost. 

Further complicating things, 3.3V and 5V rails are used by all controllers, all SATA storage devices, all add-in-cards, (including graphics cards, audio cards, RAID controllers and Thunderbolt adapters) and the vast majority of USB devices. 

So far, Intel's ATX12VO has not gained much traction on the DIY market, largely because it does not bring any significant benefits. With some motherboard vendors sharing plans to increase ATX12VO adoption, this could change, but only time will tell how enthusiastic PC builders will be about ATX12VO. 

With OEMs, the situation may be different, as many systems have to comply with new environmental regulations. But it remains to be seen which route PC makers will choose. 

We'll have to keep our eyes on this space to see if ATX12VO takes off or falls flat like DTX motherboards. 

  • Kamen Rider Blade
    This might make sense if you're using all LapTop level parts or designed an entire platform around it.

    But most people I know have alot more parts in it and moving around the 5V & 3.3V converters to the MoBo makes zero sense.

    And my idle is ~ 216W, so ATX 12VO wouldn't do squat for me


    + PSU Power Rails:
    +12.0V = MainBoard / CPU / GPU / VRM / Fans / PCIe / Molex Power Plug / SATA Power Plug
    + 5.0V = HDD / ODD / SATA SSD's / VRM / RGB / USB / Molex Power Plug / SATA Power Plug
    + 3.3V = RAM / Various Logic Chips / M.2 / _ _ _ / PCIe / _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ / SATA Power Plug

    Moving the 5.0V & 3.3V to the MoBo doesn't solve that many issues, and for most average users who has a random assortment of hardware in their PC, including older stuff, this won't really help since the idle is usually way past 100W.

    80 Plus Titanium already calls for 90% Efficiency @ 10% load
    80 Plus can always create new Tiers above Titanium that have 90% or better efficiency @ the 10% load factors.

    Also you're creating more complications for MoBo makers by having them perform the 5.0V & 3.3V DC to DC power conversion.

    BTW these are the "Idle System Power Draw" for test rigs for CPU Benchmarks.
    Usually these Test Rig Systems have the bare minimum of CPU + Mobo + GPU + SSD + PSU.





    The vast majority of ATX 12VO's Efficiency gains over regular 80+ spec is @ "< 50 watts" system load.

    These "Test Rigs" blow right past that "50 watt" line in the vast majority of the cases when idling.

    This doesn't even factor in regular folks who load up their PC's with extra drives of all sorts like me.



    Most of the Sub 80% Conversion InEfficiencies occur at < 50 watts, even across various Power Supply Sizes & Ranges from quality PSU makers like SeaSonic.

    But 80 Plus got it right since look at the vast majority of bare minimum Test Rigs that blow past the 50 Watt System Idle marks.

    This doesn't even factor in all the regular pieces that people shove in their PC case.

    TL : DR;

    ATX 12VO is a niche solution for Ultra Small Form Factor PC's and LapTop Parts needing a common PSU standard or Low Core & Low Frequency Parts that go into Tiny Form Factor PC's.

    You look at "Dell" and their proprietary BS that they like to pull while using a ATX 12VO-like only type PSU that doesn't conform to any spec.

    4DMg6hUudHEView: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4DMg6hUudHE

    Then there is a need to force Dell into some form of spec compliance, but their proprietary BS is what causes more eWaste.

    ATX 12VO isn't a real replacement for ATX, or for DIY or regular MoBo usage.

    Even down to Mini-ITX, the ATX PSU standard is still relevant and useful.

    Remember folks, 60 watts used to be the minimum power requirement for traditional tungsten filament based Light Bulbs.

    Now we use LED Light Buls, but with greater computing, we still consume more power than 50 watts while idling, trying to gain efficiencies at that low end only applies to a niche group of tiny form factor computing.

    I don't see that changing in the future, as we demand more computing power in the future along with more cores and/or more frequency, that System Idle is only going to either go up, or stay at where they're at currently.
    Reply
  • TJ Hooker
    Kamen Rider Blade said:
    This might make sense if you're using all LapTop level parts or designed an entire platform around it.

    But most people I know have alot more parts in it and moving around the 5V & 3.3V converters to the MoBo makes zero sense.
    What 'lots' of parts do you think people are running off 5V/3.3V? And wouldn't most of them draw no more than a few watts each?

    Edit: "for most average users who has a random assortment of hardware in their PC, including older stuff, this won't really help since the idle is usually way past 100W."
    No, it's not. Just because you have high idle power (from running a ton of drives and not letting them idle, from what I remember you saying in the other thread), doesn't mean that's remotely typical.
    /Edit

    Kamen Rider Blade said:
    + 5.0V = HDD / ODD / SATA SSD's /SATA Power Plug
    These are all the same thing as SATA power plug...

    Kamen Rider Blade said:
    + 3.3V = RAM / Various Logic Chips / M.2 / _ _ _ / PCIe / _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ / SATA Power Plug
    RAM is primarily powered off the 12V rail via a DC-DC converter. 3.3V is part of the SATA power spec, but many drives don't actually use it.

    Edit: All your charts for idle system draw are measured at the wall, meaning they include power supply in(efficiency). And you're comparing it to DC watts, i.e. not taking into account PSU efficiency. Also, all of those idle power draw results are for systems with high end GPUs (e.g. 2080 Ti), and many of them 10+ core CPUs, neither of which are anywhere near the norm.
    Reply
  • InvalidError
    Kamen Rider Blade said:
    Moving the 5.0V & 3.3V to the MoBo doesn't solve that many issues, and for most average users who has a random assortment of hardware in their PC, including older stuff, this won't really help since the idle is usually way past 100W.
    Average way past 100W? According to my UPS, my PC + monitor + USB3 hub and all of the USB devices plugged into it use 72W and my PC has two HDDs, three SSDs, one DVD-RW, an i5-3470, 32GB of DDR3-1600 and a GTX1050. And my PC isn't even idle, the CPU is at 20-30% load from all the stuff I have open in the background.

    It takes quite a bit to break 100W idle unless your CPU and GPU are overclocked... or you have an insane amount of RGB fans running for nothing.
    Reply
  • InvalidError
    BTW, the reason why DC-DC converters on motherboards are more efficient than one large DC-DC converter inside the PSU is that on top of eliminating reducing wiring losses over long distances, it also allows the DC-DC converters to be sized for the specific load connected to them instead of being sized for the most total system current that might possibly get drawn.

    It also opens up the path for making every future interface standard 12VO to bypass intermediate conversions altogether since most of what few devices still use 3.3V and 5V have another layer of on-board DC-DC converters to drop those voltages even lower. Once we get there, 12VO will help make things slightly cheaper across the board.

    It is a long-term play.
    Reply
  • hotaru.hino
    Kamen Rider Blade said:
    And my idle is ~ 216W, so ATX 12VO wouldn't do squat for me
    Jeebus, do you have your parts on max clock speed all the time with a miner or something?

    Kamen Rider Blade said:
    Moving the 5.0V & 3.3V to the MoBo doesn't solve that many issues, and for most average users who has a random assortment of hardware in their PC, including older stuff, this won't really help since the idle is usually way past 100W.
    If you're considering the "average user" to be you, please stop there. You are most certainly not the average user.
    Reply
  • Kamen Rider Blade
    InvalidError said:
    Average way past 100W? According to my UPS, my PC + monitor + USB3 hub and all of the USB devices plugged into it use 72W and my PC has two HDDs, three SSDs, one DVD-RW, an i5-3470, 32GB of DDR3-1600 and a GTX1050. And my PC isn't even idle, the CPU is at 20-30% load from all the stuff I have open in the background.

    It takes quite a bit to break 100W idle unless your CPU and GPU are overclocked... or you have an insane amount of RGB fans running for nothing.
    That's still past the 50 W Thresh Hold where ATX 12VO would make the most difference.

    Look at the PSU Efficiency curves that I posted relative to wattage consumed.

    hotaru.hino said:
    Jeebus, do you have your parts on max clock speed all the time with a miner or something?
    No, I leave everything at stock.

    hotaru.hino said:
    If you're considering the "average user" to be you, please stop there. You are most certainly not the average user.
    You should see how many other drives my friends have in their towers.
    Reply
  • InvalidError
    Kamen Rider Blade said:
    That's still past the 50 W Thresh Hold where ATX 12VO would make the most difference.

    Look at the PSU Efficiency curves that I posted relative to wattage consumed.
    My 72W includes my main monitor which is around 25W including USB2 devices connected to its built-in hub and an externally powered USB3 hub with its attached devices, which leaves 40-45W for the PC's PSU on the INPUT side. Add conversion losses at less than 10% load on my 650W Silverstone Strider (don't remember if it is Platinum or Titanium), that leaves 35-40W total on the PSU's outputs, not 50+W.

    As I have written before, something like 12VO was inevitable since it makes no sense to maintain 3.3V and 5V rails when no meaningful loads use those anymore and most of the remaining ones have their own on-board converters to convert that to something else that could easily be adapted to a 12VO interface make-over to eliminate the need for intermediate DC-DC converters on the motherboard and PSU.

    Don't get your panties in a bunch over this, the transition will likely take about 10 years to complete, you still have plenty of time left to continue drawing 1.21GW from 3.3V and 5V.
    Reply
  • Kamen Rider Blade
    InvalidError said:
    My 72W includes my main monitor which is around 25W including USB2 devices connected to its built-in hub and an externally powered USB3 hub with its attached devices, which leaves 40-45W for the PC's PSU on the INPUT side. Add conversion losses at less than 10% load on my 650W Silverstone Strider (don't remember if it is Platinum or Titanium), that leaves 35-40W total on the PSU's outputs, not 50+W.

    As I have written before, something like 12VO was inevitable since it makes no sense to maintain 3.3V and 5V rails when no meaningful loads use those anymore and most of the remaining ones have their own on-board converters to convert that to something else that could easily be adapted to a 12VO interface make-over to eliminate the need for intermediate DC-DC converters on the motherboard and PSU.

    Don't get your panties in a bunch over this, the transition will likely take about 10 years to complete, you still have plenty of time left to continue drawing 1.21GW from 3.3V and 5V.
    Or the community can fight you tooth and nail and make sure ATX 12VO fails like Intel's Itanium and BTX standards

    =D

    Try to force the industry to use more 3.3V & 5V and make PSU makers create as efficient as possible with the current ATX designs, even at the lower wattages that are sub 50 watts.
    Reply
  • ginthegit
    Kamen Rider Blade said:
    Or the community can fight you tooth and nail and make sure ATX 12VO fails like Intel's Itanium and BTX standards

    =D

    Try to force the industry to use more 3.3V & 5V and make PSU makers create as efficient as possible with the current ATX designs, even at the lower wattages that are sub 50 watts.

    What these numpties dont realise is that we are fighting over Idle power here. Who is using idle power? If a PC is to be productive, then Idle power is for the other numpties who never turn their PC's off.

    Fact is, and I believe you are correct. There are already 90% efficiency powersupplies that run on low load, and it does not make sense that the Environmental agencies are enforcing on OEMs to use powersupplies (that claim at best) and extra 3% efficiency. It looks like Intel has been doing their Bribe and lobbie again.

    But since Intels poor gen 11 showing, they had to come out with something to make it look like OEMs could mitigate their losses selling new Intel chips to the numb skulls that dont need it.

    And we have yet to see how the AI chips will affect idle load when the programs for it get more demanding.

    Problem is, most of the commenters above are just Intel nuts who buy into the Claimed rhetoric. I always go to the forums to see what people who have 12vo's. It seems like they cost a fortune, fail more often, and you need a fairly specific one for the motherboard.

    The change to VO;s make little difference and make no sense.

    The cost will escalate for the Motherboard, so you will liternally pay more in the long run.

    DC to DC was meant for Low power, it will be comically interesting when they start to develop high power systems, which i doubt they will.

    I hope that the Enthusiasts make Intel pay for this pathetic move, and change to AMD for one generation as a show of solidarity against Intels bad Lobby tactics and pointless tech changes.
    Reply
  • InvalidError
    ginthegit said:
    DC to DC was meant for Low power, it will be comically interesting when they start to develop high power systems, which i doubt they will.
    The VRMs that feed the CPU and GPU cores are DC-DC converters with 12V input pushing 250+W at 0.9-1.4V at the higher-end, 350+W in servers.
    Reply