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View Full Version : ATX is outdated garbage, and needs a modern replacement



Jon Gerow
01-06-2019, 05:57 PM
Old article, but still relevant as the form factor STILL hasn't changed:

https://www.osnews.com/story/29700/atx-is-outdated-garbage-and-needs-a-modern-replacement/

ashiekh
01-06-2019, 09:34 PM
Isn't that why BTX was invented?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BTX_(form_factor)

Jon Gerow
01-06-2019, 11:21 PM
Isn't that why BTX was invented?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BTX_(form_factor)

We see how well that worked out, right?

ashiekh
01-06-2019, 11:25 PM
I suspect the future is single voltage power supplies, so then 'group regulated' is just fine ;-)

I read someplace that computers consume more energy than aircraft (all computers compared to all aircraft), so I hope the future is low powered.

My Raspberry Pi has no fan and runs on a single voltage; but I worry about the SD card wearing out (SLC is expensive)

Jon Gerow
01-06-2019, 11:58 PM
My Raspberry Pi has no fan and runs on a single voltage; but I worry about the SD card wearing out (SLC is expensive)

But can it run Crysis?

Stefan Payne
01-07-2019, 04:53 AM
Old article, but still relevant as the form factor STILL hasn't changed
Form Factor is something like 35 years old or so, maybe more, designed for like 120W PSU with 50-60% Efficiency and 80mm fan, back in the day when IBM was "da boss"...

But the voltages aren't any better.

At least the 3,3V Rail should be gotten rid of and additional 12V pins for the Motherboard. At least double them to 4.
And remove most of the 5V or all of them from the connector...
Who needs 5x 5V these days or 4x 3,3V these days??

So a quick calculation in my head (left 1 5V and removed all 3,3V) makes that come out at 14pins, with the removal of the negative rails, its 12 pins...
That sounds better than 24pins with 2 holes (in the future)...

Ansem1
01-07-2019, 06:37 AM
I agree with the article!
While building computer for me or my friends I really can't understand how is possible that we still have 10 pins to connect 1 at time for case leds+buttons!

Also the ATX+CPU connectors are insane. I get that cables need to be big, but the connector is awful! I can't count how many times I nearly broke my motherboard beacause of the ATX connector!

I really hope that computer makers will come out with a decent new standard

mariush
01-07-2019, 09:31 AM
At least the 3,3V Rail should be gotten rid of and additional 12V pins for the Motherboard. At least double them to 4.
And remove most of the 5V or all of them from the connector...
Who needs 5x 5V these days or 4x 3,3V these days??

So a quick calculation in my head (left 1 5V and removed all 3,3V) makes that come out at 14pins, with the removal of the negative rails, its 12 pins...
That sounds better than 24pins with 2 holes (in the future)...

5vSB + 5v for backwards compatibility.
Lose 3.3v and -12v
No extra 12v
Add 20v (since it's in USB power), make it tolerant enough to also use ~18.5v DC In adapters, so you could power lighter systems (like 35-65w TDP processors with integrated graphics and a m.2 ssd) from a 65w-90w adapter).


Something else that i thought about... would be cool if we could have a sort of "USB Light" because even the simplest USB 1.1 is way to complex for some things.
For example...
no 3-4 different transfer modes,
no 40+ byte headers per data packet depending on transfer mode (i think 9 byte is the minimum)
stricter packet sizes ... for example have each header 8 bytes always, and then data payload in multiples of 8 bytes, up to 1024 or 2048 bytes ( if one byte in header is used to specify max payload, then you have max 256x8 bytes) and minimum 8 bytes ...
have device specify at connection time the maximum payload size it can process, for example for microcontrollers with only 64-128 bytes of RAM or something like that, they could say at handshake "i can only process up to 16 bytes payload size" and the hub controller will fragment bigger stuff in consecutive 16 byte payloads and packets each with 8 byte header.
send to remove the cascading feature (no usb devices in usb hub which goes in usb hub), remove
device can send at initial connection what voltages it supports 5v, 12v, 20v, hub always starts in 5v and if device asks (by sending a command to hub chip) it switches to 12v or higher if hub supports it (hub chip could be 5v and 12v only) - it would be trivial to have microcontrollers with a tiny ldo on the input to make sure they won't blow up with 12v or 20v at input.
maybe have 5 wires instead of 4, voltage ground in out clock and then you can have full duplex at 8-10mbps.

If you simplify the protocol and make it possible to use less transistors in a "hub chip" maybe you can make cheap "hubs" that have 8-16 "usb light" ports.

Why this... well look for example as fans with RGB and all the different protocols aura sync , msi mystic lights , nzxt cam, 12v rgb headers , 5v rgb headers etc

Wouldn't it be way easier to have a small "usb light" microcontroller inside the fan which connects to a "usb light" hub and reports it's a "fan with rpm sensor and pwm input", and also a rgb strip with n leds and each fan and rgb has its own id (unique serial or stored in eeprom / flash) which rgb software can enumerate and identify and send commands to the RGB to change them and sync all of them through the usb hub

You can have 12v fans or 24v fans (working at 20v) and the motherboard initially starts at 5v and the microcontroller can report it can handle 5v and 12v or 5v/12v/20v and then the usb light hub chip switches to 12v or 20v and everybody's happy.

ashiekh
01-07-2019, 01:01 PM
5vSB + 5v for backwards compatibility.


I think backward compatibility would be an error.

Concerning USB, we already have a different number of pins for USB 1/2 compared to USB 3 and the type A connectors on USB 3 thumb drives are a bit crazy for backward compatibility.

mariush
01-07-2019, 04:14 PM
psu doesn't care about different usb connectors.
and you'd still have basic devices like a usb keyboard. I was thinking that with the reduction of manufacturing processes power consumption goes down, so it wouldn't be unheard of to have a pc powered from 5v 2A adapter for example. such motherboards could be sold with a tiny adapter cable that takes 5v..20v (if usb charger supports quickcharge or whatever is called and create the power good and power ok signals and 5v. Or, you can buy modular psu and insert a single 6-8 pin connector.

Motherboards need a low voltage for stand-by (for chipset, wake-on-lan, keypress) and stuff like suspend to ram.

I suppose it could be changed to 12v stand-by (for higher efficiency) but that would force all motherboards to have a 5v dc-dc converter on them.
Still, considering a lot of systems these days use m.2 ssds (running with 3.3v i think) it could make sense to use same onboard dc-dc/vrm

We could have something like:


[PGood] [12vSB] [ 12v ] [ 12v ]
[ Pok ] [ GND ] [ GND ] [ GND ]

and psu can add a relay to switch 12vSB to 12v from internal dc-dc converter / regular output once pc starts completely.

3 pairs x 12v x ~9A (~300w) would be enough for pci-e slots, fans, ram vrm, onboard stuff

They could also change the pci-e slots in a backwards compatible way like they did with agp-pro (extend slot on the rear facing side a bit - if card has some gold fingers there signaling support, the motherboard could send 20v instead of 12v through regular power contacts (if additional 20v only connector is inserted in motherboard)

ashiekh
01-07-2019, 04:31 PM
I suppose it could be changed to 12v stand-by (for higher efficiency) …


I have some old HP computers (HP Compaq 8000) that use 12V only (including 12V standby)

I believe they are from around 2010, and the BTX idea was around 2004; so attempts to break out of the ATX mold seems to have fallen by the wayside.

mariush
01-07-2019, 05:42 PM
You'd still need 5v for sata but they could make cable strips with dc-dc converter on them
You could have a bunch of 2x2 connectors (2x12v and 2xgnd) ...
strip of molex or sata, one conn.
2 x pci-e 6+2pin .. use 3 connectors, eps or atx12v 4-4 .. 2 connectors each

12v 5v dc-dc converter on cable strip adds cost let's say 3-4$ per cable ...
just sell psu with just 1x3 molex/sata or 2 1x3 molex/sata strips... anything extra buy as accessory,
and since it's plain 2x2 headers on psu case you can reuse cables between psus.


use same 2x2 style but maybe different connector series for 20v, to prevent confusionconnectors
maybe have connector companies agree to make one series royalty, free , open etc
worst case same mini-fit jr as now but keyed differently, for 20v ...


eventually if needed, could have strips with 20v in and dual 5v/12v converters for molex sata strip
As everyone moves cpu and video cards and fans (24v fans running at 20v for ex.) and other stuff to 20v,
psus could reduce number of 2x2 12v connectors and put more 2x2 20v connectors
leave just enough for eps 2 + 1 x pci-e 8pin (2) 1 strip sata/molex (1) so a total of 5or 6 2x2 headers for backwards compatibility.

ashiekh
01-07-2019, 06:15 PM
You'd still need 5v for sata ...


As I said above, my HP tower power supply is 12V only (the SATA drives are powered off the mother board).

Backward compatibility is not a good idea if 'ATX is outdated garbage, and needs a modern replacement'

Gamefoo21
02-05-2019, 12:46 PM
I didn't see this mentioned anywhere but mSATA and basically everything m.2 runs off 3.3v currently. It's why the SATA power connector carries 3.3v too. PCI-E slots also supply 3.3v for those devices which use it.

May not be heavily used but it is still used.

In this HP I'm looking at it's basically 12V but it's motherboard has a bunch of added power conversion parts to get the lesser voltages. So that power has to come from somewhere and it means space used and components needed. Is it easier to run from the PSU or should it be relegated to the motherboard?

Jon Gerow
02-05-2019, 01:41 PM
I didn't see this mentioned anywhere but mSATA and basically everything m.2 runs off 3.3v currently. It's why the SATA power connector carries 3.3v too. PCI-E slots also supply 3.3v for those devices which use it.

May not be heavily used but it is still used.

In this HP I'm looking at it's basically 12V but it's motherboard has a bunch of added power conversion parts to get the lesser voltages. So that power has to come from somewhere and it means space used and components needed. Is it easier to run from the PSU or should it be relegated to the motherboard?

That's what is being proposed. Put all the DC to DC on the motherboard. Have the ATX PSU only output +12V to the board.

Nobody implied that the whole PC should only run off of +12V.

ashiekh
02-05-2019, 02:53 PM
In this HP I'm looking at it's basically 12V but it's motherboard has a bunch of added power conversion parts to get the lesser voltages. So that power has to come from somewhere and it means space used and components needed. Is it easier to run from the PSU or should it be relegated to the motherboard?

Low voltage does not travel well (larger losses), so it is better to generate the 3.3 and 5V close to where it will be used. RAM and CPU work at lower than 3.3V so there are already converters onboard; might as well just deliver 12V

This will also give rise to better regulation by reducing the voltage drops.

tinpoint
02-10-2019, 07:02 PM
I fear after the BTX Fail intel has no more interest and we have to live with ATX very long.
As with Molex, how old is the part 60 years?

ashiekh
02-10-2019, 08:05 PM
Part of the problem might be not knowing in what direction PCs are heading; high power or low.

Stefan Payne
02-11-2019, 03:44 AM
Part of the problem might be not knowing in what direction PCs are heading; high power or low.

That doesn't really matter as its still cheaper to make it more for higher power consumption and still have less pins than you have right now...
My Calculation is a bit above, but the big OEMs use like 6-8pin connectors with only 12V to the MoBO. Some even an additional for PSON and PWR_OK and so on.

For example:
https://www.dell.com/support/manuals/de/de/dedhs1/optiplex-3060-desktop/optiplex_3060_sff_service_manual/installing-the-power-supply-unit-or-psu?guid=guid-e155ad67-ca1e-4c49-ad03-e8991c7f4a1f&lang=en-us

That is a 12V Only system (maybe 5VSB, though not sure)

GDILord
02-11-2019, 06:17 AM
But can it run Crysis?
Well it CAAAAAaaaAAaAaAaNN sorta kinda maybe run Crysis - if you're VERY patient:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wnU6ENJtRGg

ashiekh
02-11-2019, 09:06 PM
That is a 12V Only system (maybe 5VSB, though not sure)

My HP Compaq 8000 Elite Convertible Minitower PC has a 12V power supply with 12VSB

Jon Gerow
02-11-2019, 10:59 PM
My HP Compaq 8000 Elite Convertible Minitower PC has a 12V power supply with 12VSB

Which means it's not ATX.

What's the title of this thread?

ashiekh
02-12-2019, 08:28 AM
"ATX is outdated garbage, and needs a modern replacement"

12V only is a possible modern replacement to ATX

Jon Gerow
02-12-2019, 01:35 PM
"ATX is outdated garbage, and needs a modern replacement"

12V only is a possible modern replacement to ATX

+12VSB instead of +5VSB would cause half the industry to have to go back to the drawing board.

Which isn't a horrible idea... but it's not a practical one. You still need some means of backwards compatibility (other than initially supplying both +12VSB and +5VSB simultaneously which creates more problems than it solves).

ashiekh
02-12-2019, 02:33 PM
In my opinion backward compatibility would terminate any attempt to have a single voltage supply.

Just keep selling the old power supply design for as long as there is demand.

Jon Gerow
02-12-2019, 04:19 PM
In my opinion backward compatibility would terminate any attempt to have a single voltage supply.

Just keep selling the old power supply design for as long as there is demand.

I disagree.

Separate SB voltage can be a given because it's a rail that operates independently of the main output as it is live during standby while other rails aren't.

You can adapt a multiple output PSU to a single output by simply not using the additional +3.3 and +5 voltages. There's backwards compatibility right ther. Just use an adapter to adapt the connectors.

ashiekh
02-12-2019, 04:24 PM
A single voltage supply is cheaper; only need to generate and regulate one voltage and have only one set of secondary capacitors.

We can agree to differ.

Jon Gerow
02-12-2019, 05:14 PM
A single voltage supply is cheaper; only need to generate and regulate one voltage and have only one set of secondary capacitors.

We can agree to differ.

I'm sorry.. I don't think we're differing here.... Maybe I'm just not making myself clear.

When I say "I disagree", I mean that I disagree that backwards compatibility would negate implementation of single output voltage.

I agree that a single voltage power supply would be good (except for the standby voltage which is a separate rail regardless).

The backwards compatibility I'm talking about is the ability to take a NEW MOTHERBOARD that only uses a single voltage output and still be able to use an older PSU with multiple output... just not using the multiple outputs.

In this market, it's WAY more common for a user to buy a new motherboard every other year and still use the same power supply for the next 10.

Not sure what you THINK I'm implying.

ashiekh
02-12-2019, 05:16 PM
Well 12VSB could be a problem

Stefan Payne
02-13-2019, 06:24 PM
5VSB isn't an issue.
5V is needed anyway for Drives.

3,3V is not and obsolete.

5x5V on ATX is obsolete (2 are enough)
4x3,3V is obsolete - none required.

And PCIe Spec needs to be reworked as well - 6A 3,3V requirement needs to be removed.

ashiekh
02-13-2019, 06:27 PM
5VSB isn't an issue.
5V is needed anyway for Drives.


Not on my 12 volt HP; the drives get their power from the motherboard