First of all, you should know that actually 12VO, in a sense, isn’t really new. Companies like Dell, HP, and Lenovo (especially HP) have long used power supplies that only have a + 12V rail, although motherboards obviously come with all the necessary components (mostly DC converters / DC) to be able to convert the voltages. However, although it has been around for a long time, it had not been standardized until now and was often used with specific (i.e. non-standard) connectors on the power supply.
What is the Intel ATX12VO standard?
Comencemos con algunos antecedentes: Intel publicó la especificación ATX (no la -12VO) original para placas base y fuentes de alimentación in 1995, y la especificación actual ATX12V (no -O) en el año 2000, de la cual podemos sacar dos important conclusions to begin. First, ATX12VO is a redesign of Intel’s own technology rather than the company trying to take the reins of nothing.
Second, the ATX12V specification is old; technically ATX refers to form factor and general design (currently version 2.2) and ATX12V refers specifically to power supply specifications (currently version 2.52). Note that the ATX12V specification is also responsible for things like the maximum ripple requirement of 120mV, which highlights its age.
The power supplies provide voltages of 12V, 5V and 3.3V to motherboards, divided into three different rails. Among the cables that include modern power supplies, there are 5V and 3.3V pins only on the 24-pin ATX, 4-pin MOLEX, and SATA connector; PCIe, ATX12V, and EPS12V connectors only use 12V and ground.
One of the reasons for this specification is that, according to Intel, the 3.3V and 5V power supply is used much less in modern PCs than when the ATX specification was released decades ago, and less and less. less is used (the reality is that yes it is used a lot, but according to them only in devices and some storage media, as if that is not enough).
With all of that in mind, Intel released this specification which they call “12 volts only” (12 volts only, 12VO), which uses a single 10-pin connector to replace the 24 pin ATX connector and, as the name suggests, the source will become a simple 12V transformer through all cables, leaving the motherboard to do the rest of the work.
The specification includes a complete set of electrical and physical guidelines for building Intel ATX12VO compatible power supplies, including CFX, LFX, SFX, TFX, and Flex ATX versions, as well as recommendations for connectors and cables.
What is the rationale for the ATX12VO standard?
The difference today is that Intel is getting ready to standardize this ATX12VO and the main reason is to more easily meet the efficiency requirements that government organizations are implementing for devices like power supplies. These regulations apply to prefabricated systems and not to power supplies that we can purchase separately, yes.
In other words, removing the 3.3 and 5 V rails from the power supplies literally removes two of them. DC / DC converters
Now what they really do is move the problem elsewhere because the hardware devices still need the 3.3 and 5 volt rails to function and so now that the transformation step is carried over to the board and the energy efficiency will degrade there instead of the power supply . This standard is therefore only a simple “patch” to comply with the leg islation but which only makes matters worse, since the transformers which will integrate the cards will be worse and more inefficient than those of the sources themselves.
What are its advantages and disadvantages? How will modern PCs change?
We will start by listing the advantages that this standard would have over the current one, which are mainly two in number:
- The design of the power supply is simplified, reducing its cost and making it much easier for manufacturers to achieve the high levels of energy efficiency required by regulators.
- The size and number of pins of the main connector of the motherboard is reduced from 24 to 10 pins.
And now let’s talk about the cons:
- Intel ATX12VO makes the connector smaller but does not eliminate the DC / DC conversion step for 5V and 3.3V rails, still necessary for SATA and USB devices for example. This, while it lowers the cost of the sources and makes them more efficient, it makes the motherboards more expensive, it will make them more expensive and it will also worsen the efficiency by separating the two DC / DC transformers.
- Although the size of the main connector is reduced, the 4 + 4 pin EPS connector is still needed, along with the rest of the source cables.
As you can see, this standard is just a patch to be able to comply with energy regulations demanded by government agencies and nothing else, but it just transmits the problem of the power supply to the motherboard. . On top of that, and taking into account that these regulations will only affect OEM PCs, it means that in all likelihood we will not see any changes in the conventional consumer market i.e. in power supplies that we can buy in stores, because as well as on motherboards.
Intel ATX12VO is therefore not a standard that we are going to see “normalized” as such, but it will simply affect the OEM equipment of the main manufacturers, which will now be less efficient and pose more problems than before. But normal PC users can rest assured that there won’t be any change, at least not in the short or medium term (we’ll see what happens when the “thinking minds” who had these brilliant ideas realize that now the ineffective ones will be motherboards. and decide to attack them too).