The functioning of PC power supplies has been fairly consistent since 1995, although there have been one or two updates since then. But thanks to a design standard initiated by Intel called ATX12VO, this should change fundamentally this year.
PC power supplies according to ATX12VO: This follows from the specification
The abbreviation stands for “Advanced Technology Extended 12 Volt Only” and stipulates that in the future, power supplies should not supply 3.3 or 5, but only 12 volts.
At the start, the new standard will initially only be used by system integrators – PC hobbyists who build their own systems can breathe a sigh of relief. The advantage of ATX12VO is obvious: If the power supply unit only has to supply one instead of three voltages, the circuit design is simplified and thus reduces the production costs for the power dispensers.
However, this step is not a surprise. Many components are content with 12 volts. At the same time, numerous power supplies are already working with a single 12 volt rail that uses a step-down DCDC converter to provide 3.3 and 5 volts to supply the parts that require even lower voltages. These include, for example, HDDs, SATA SSDs and most USB devices.
According to the new ATX-12VO design standard from Intel, PC power supplies should only supply 12 volts. That makes them smaller and cheaper.
In fact, many lines of the 24-pin ATX connector are now redundant, and more and more systems do not use any SATA-connected components such as HDDs or flash memory disks, because the NVMe standard is becoming more widespread. The manufacturers of USB devices are also increasingly adopting a 12-volt compatibility to enable faster charging processes that would not be possible with the conventional 5 volt. Therefore, only a 10-pin connector should be used when using the ATX12VO standard. An additional 12-volt plug should still be possible, however, in order to supply particularly potent systems with sufficient current.
But since SATA-powered components and 5-volt USB devices will not disappear from the market too quickly, ATX12VO provides that the motherboard now has to generate the lower voltages itself. ATX12VO-compliant motherboards must be equipped with additional voltage converters and power plugs, since the components are no longer supplied with energy directly from the power supply. This addition will then probably remain for at least a decade until the standard is fully established.
Although this will probably result in higher prices for the main boards, the prices for the compliant power supplies should in turn decrease.