There's a new cable-free power connector for graphics cards on the way and it doesn't play around. Rated to deliver anywhere between 600W and 900W, the GC-HPCE connection would suitably cover any of today's high-end graphics cards or in fact something a lot bigger that Nvidia may be dreaming up for the next-gen.
GC-HPCE manages those power demands without any pesky cables to get in the way. It's a connection parallel to the PCIe connector running along the length of a graphics card, requiring a motherboard suitably designed to allow that sort of current to flow through it. That puts the onus on the motherboard to really deliver, which comes with its own set of concerns, yet it appears on the surface to be the better connector versus the 12VHPWR cable introduced with Nvidia's RTX 40-series cards.
Documentation for GC-HPCE, spotted by momomo_us on X (via Tom's Hardware), describes the pin layout and a few key specs for the connector. The key thing to note is that it's not really a new connector. It's a server part.
The documentation recommends a few places to buy the part from should anyone be interested. One is Amphenol's HPCE VERT REC 16P12S. If you take a look at the specs for that connector, it's rated to 200 mating cycles. That's how many times it is recommended to plug in or unplug the connector. Compare that to the 12VHPWR connector's 30 mating cycles and you're looking at a generally much more reliable part—fine news if you're still a little dubious of 12VHPWR after its shaky launch. That's not to say either will be useless after you exceed the mating cycles listed, or that HPCE itself is immune to issues, but the HPCE connection would appear on the surface the more robust of the two.
The thing is, you are still going to be using either 12VHPWR or 8-pin power connectors with GC-HPCE. These connections instead go from the PSU and connect into the rear of the motherboard. However, in theory, you won't have to disconnect/reconnect these all that often.
Front View of GC-HPWR pic.twitter.com/x2RYNgJBehAugust 28, 2023
We have seen the GC-HPCE connector being used outside of the server space for consumer graphics cards before. Asus showed off a prototype RTX 4070 graphics card with GC-HPCE on it, alongside a couple of compatible motherboards.
So far, we don't know if anyone else has plans to use the connector, or if Asus will use the connection on more products beyond what's already been announced. Though this documentation would suggest that the specification could be used more widely than first expected.
This could be a big change in how our PCs piece together, however, so let's see if this concept has what it takes to go mainstream.