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Nvidia’s mysterious 12-pin connector for the RTX 3080 and RTX 3090, “Chinese whispers”, rumors, senseless panic and a matching cable from Seasonic | Background Story

Since the new 12-pin sockets are so well known and one of the NDAs has fallen in the meantime, one should also clean up some of the rumours, mistakes and confusion. In the end, only a small communication lapse led to half of the power supply industry suddenly gasping for breath in panic and hyperventilating within a few days. But I want to unravel this chronologically, because it shows once again how dangerous an incomplete communication can be when the whole thing goes viral.

Yesterday, by the way, I received a nice little package from Seasonic in Taiwan with a suitable cable for direct connection to a suitable power supply from this manufacturer. It contained the final version of the cable from Seasonic, which had already been teased out days ago, in order to be able to connect the new high-end cards of the Founders Edition (and that applies only to this one!) directly to the power supply unit without the need for an additional adapter. In times of all the gold, platinum and titanium certifications, of course, something like this is always good for efficiency, appearance and ultimately for long-term durability.

But the story of how all these solutions came about is quite funny, and further proof of how overzealous secrecy and funny communication can trigger a veritable flood of products without ever having intended it.  I wasn’t there, of course, but it must have been something like this in May, when someone from NVIDIA’s inner circle punctured the information about the built-in 12-pin socket, which also led the addressee to search (and find) a supposedly matching blueprint of the socket (picture below).

For certain reasons I did not insert this as a full screen, but it is enough. You can see the date, the specifications and yet not the whole truth, because the socket on the FE is a custom made one. But principle, data and manufacturer are identical. Only now surely everyone will ask themselves where the place with the joke is. Patience, coming up!

The request to the station of information, if there was a suitable adapter, then triggered a nice variant of the “Chinese whispers”. It was communicated that for reasons of operational safety this time a special 12-pin connector would be used, to which two “standardized” 8-pin plugs of the power supply unit would have to be connected. If the Informnat had talked to a normal citizen or layman, nothing would have happened, but woe betide an over-correct specification fanatic!

All the PCIe connections for the graphics card are intended for 8-pin sockets at most, but by no means 8-pin plugs, but actually still 6-pin plugs. If you add two of the so-called sense pins, which are supposed to make the graphics card believe that the connection cable is properly dimensioned, then this construct is still no 8-pin connector, but a maximum of 6+2. The only “standardized” 8-pin connectors, however, are the EPS cables, as they are intended for connection to the CPU power supply.

At this point the disaster took its course and the panic was quite big. This is because normal, commercially available power supplies have one or at most two of the so-called EPS cables. But this way, depending on the motherboard and CPU, up to four would have had to be! the adapter in Nvidia’s wonder bag already has two 8-pin sockets, so this is exactly what you would expect on the board partner cards and also on the reference board! but this is the counterpart to the 6+2 connectors and not the 8-pin EPS!

Without wanting to name the manufacturers, but especially the suppliers with non-modular power supplies were not only in a real panic for a week. I suppose NVIDIA could have put it more correctly to the people involved, but since it wasn’t an official announcement, it’s not really something you can really blame on anyone. And NVIDIA wasn’t aware of any negligence, because the conscious adapter is designed to connect to normal, conventional power supplies. Fine, 6+2 is also 8, but somehow different. So in the end everything is good again, only that now some companies have a few cables in their portfolio. Whether necessary or unnecessary, that could still be debated. At least it won’t hurt anybody.

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About the author

Igor Wallossek

Editor-in-chief and name-giver of igor'sLAB as the content successor of Tom's Hardware Germany, whose license was returned in June 2019 in order to better meet the qualitative demands of web content and challenges of new media such as YouTube with its own channel.

Computer nerd since 1983, audio freak since 1979 and pretty much open to anything with a plug or battery for over 50 years.

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