Intel would be promoting the new energy-efficient ATX12VO power standard with the launch of its upcoming twelfth-generation Core "Alder Lake-S" platform, even if motherboard and power supply manufacturers oppose it.

The ATX12VO is a 10-pin power connector that Intel pushed from over a year ago to replace the conventional 24-pin power connector on modern motherboards. The connector abandons the 3.3V and 5V rails and only maintains the 12V. A more compact power connector minimizes power supply production costs and cable footprint for the end user.

Tests have shown that this new connector can reduce power by half while it is idle, but energy efficiency gains are not as significant as the load increases to full load. The requirement for this is a motherboard with the appropriate 10-pin power connector and a compatible power supply. What this means for the motherboard design is that the 10-pin power connector only has a 12V power rail. Any voltage above or below that 12V level will have to be transformed by the motherboard. Overall, the adoption of the ATX12VO power connector will result in a more complex motherboard design for greater energy efficiency.

Technical specifications

The main power supply of the motherboard comes from the new 10-pin connector, which provides up to 288 Watts. For small and medium-sized motherboards, this should be the only power needed. While 8-pin CPU power will still be needed for the processor: the 10 pins (and any additional 6 pins) will power the onboard components and PCIe slots.

The ATX12VO power connector probably won't be adopted among many of the high-end motherboards, but it may start to find its niche in the cheap, basic-level motherboards used in pre-built systems for better energy efficiency. The ATX12VO power connector has some great advantages, but it will definitely take some time to be widely accepted.