News & Analysis

Intel introduces standard to reduce desktop PC idle power

22nd June 2020
Caroline Hayes


Intel has introduced the ATX12VO power standard to reduce the levels of power consumed by desktop PCs in idle mode.

Desktop computers can spend more time idle than in any other mode, so reducing power used during these long periods of minimal activity can reduce a PC’s overall power consumption.

 Stephen Eastman (pictured) is platform power specialist in Intel’s Client Computing Group. His team developed the standard which requires a redesign of the PC’s motherboard.

The industry’s first motherboard was produced by PC manufacturer, ASRock for its Z490 Phantom Gaming 4SR. It is based on the Intel 10th Gen Intel Core S-series platform. It reduces idle power by 27% compared to a similar featured motherboard and traditional ATX multi-rail power supply design, reports Intel.

Conventional power supplies change the AC current at the plug to the DC current needed by the computer. This conversion can cause the greatest loss of power when a computer is idling. Most power supply units have 12V, 3.3V and 5.0V rails, or circuitry that creates the voltage. The ATX12VO standard specifies the removal of the 3.3V and 5.0V rails and moves the creation of these voltages to the motherboard where they can be more energy-efficient, without affecting the PC's performance.

“This makes no difference to performance. It makes no difference to the end user except for using less idle power. It just makes a difference to the system builder,” Eastman says.

The Z490 Phantom Gaming 4SR replaces the ATX12V power connector with the smaller ATX12VO connector which supplies 12V into the motherboard. The motherboard also has single PCIe 3.0 x4 M.2 slot, four SATA ports,two full-length PCIe 3.0 slots and an Intel GbE port. “We’re extremely delighted to co-develop this revolutionary motherboard — the Z490 Phantom Gaming 4SR — with Intel. This new design is able to improve power efficiency of the PC and meet new energy regulations. We believe the new ATX12VO will be the solution for the next generation of personal computer,” says Chris Lee, general manager of ASRock’s motherboard business unit.

Intel is also working with power supply unit builders such as FSP, High Power, Channel Well Technology and Corsair to build ATX12VO power supply units to go with the motherboards.

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