In this letter, we report externally confirmed total area efficiencies reaching up to 12.9% for CdS/Cu(In,Ga)S2 based solar cells. These are the highest externally confirmed efficiencies for such cells. The absorbers were prepared from sputtered metals subsequently sulfurized using rapid thermal processing in sulfur vapor. Structural, compositional, and electrical properties of one of these champion cells are presented. The correlation between the Ga distribution profile and solar cell properties is discussed. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.