What is ESA?

In its simplest terms, ESA is a new industry standard developed for real-time monitoring and control of PC power supplies, chassis, and cooling systems. The goal, of course, is to enable manufacturers and enthusiasts to build higher performance PCs than has been possible before. However, ESA is not just about the highest benchmark score. This new component control will enable companies and/or users to build the quietest PC possible, or to set up ever more complicated control paradigms that allow the computer to function at its best regardless of the operating environment.

Of course, NVIDIA is not completely altruistic and they obviously want to sell more chipsets, video cards, and future components because of ESA. However, NVIDIA was very wise to make ESA an open standard. This means it is free to use for anyone who wants to implement the standard. This does not mean that AMD or Intel will jump on the ESA bandwagon tomorrow, but it does mean that any manufacturer who wishes can implement ESA. If ESA is a huge success, we could eventually see even competitors to NVIDIA support it.

That still doesn't explain exactly what ESA is or how it works, so let's delve a little deeper and look at where we are today and what ESA brings to the table.

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Today components communicate with the motherboard and software via standards like SMBus, EPP, PCIe, Serial ATA, and HyperTransport. The communication, however, normally has little to do with system monitoring and variable control. ESA is a separate communication standard that will work in conjunction with these protocols to provide the monitoring and control information to other components and/or software.

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This can include information for a power supply like voltage monitoring and control, temperature control, and current monitoring. A chassis could report and control temperatures in the case and manage interior lights. Coolers could monitor temperatures - including water temperature and water levels for liquid cooling - fan RPMs, and airflow. This is just the tip of the iceberg since ESA can manage and control anything the manufacturer chooses to implement.

Control is not limited to just these components. ESA is starting here but if it can go anywhere enthusiasts and component manufacturers want it to go. With an open standard, there could be many custom modules in Linux, for example, written by computer enthusiasts to provide a wide range of adjustments for ESA components. Yes, ESA is initially a Windows application - provided by NVIDIA - but as you will see on the next page, the actual protocol is OS independent. This is very important for the future of ESA, as it will eventually allow ESA to operate with any platform.
Index How ESA Works
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  • nullpointerus - Tuesday, November 06, 2007 - link

    I know this is off-topic, but off-hand I do not know of any other way to reach AT staff.

    Most people in the Video forum were optimistic and open-minded about DirectX 10 and the performance/IQ claims made by Microsoft, yet most of the new games and demos introduced this year have a huge performance hit with little or no perceived IQ improvements. Hellgate London is the only game I've heard of where the performance benefits are said to be realized. Every other DX10 game/demo has been disappointing.

    Unfortunately, every game seems to have different sets of issues related to DX10, leading to a variety of conflicting theories with no solid evidence.

    It would be great if Anandtech published a realistic DX10 article describing the cause of the performance hit and highlighting any IQ improvements in upcoming/shipping games.
    Reply
  • kobymu - Monday, November 05, 2007 - link

    quote:

    However, ESA is a proposed new better way to get deeper into your wallet more than a real product.


    Fixed :)
    Reply
  • erwos - Monday, November 05, 2007 - link

    The return for nVidia is:
    1. Prestige.
    2. Major influence on a new standard.

    It's hard to write negative things about new standards, generally because they're invented to solve problems. Criticizing them for not having the software/hardware stack completely lined-up and out the door is ludicrous - these things take time. Would you prefer to be completely blind-sided by a new stack of things you've never heard of before coming out tomorrow?

    Have you ever been involved with formulating a new standard for anything? There's nothing unusual going on here.
    Reply
  • Regs - Monday, November 05, 2007 - link

    I don't care about the graphics.

    I do care if the interface is easy to use and the program is written and supported accurately enough that it won't make my system unstable.

    We all have different systems, drivers, software, and Os's. If they still struggle to uniform games to work stable enough on all our systems, then I have major worries about programs that intend to plug-in and control such vital operations such as cooling, voltage control, and others.
    Reply
  • defter - Monday, November 05, 2007 - link

    Read the article, ESA is an open platform. You are free to write an own small, fast, non-bloated application that utilizes ESA. Reply
  • mlau - Monday, November 05, 2007 - link

    "open" can mean anything these days -- just look at Microsofts "OpenXML": it's the
    usual binary dump of their office formats with XML tags wrapped around (and the name
    is pure marketing genius: combine two of the most recognizable buzzwords in the IT
    industry and voila!)
    Reply
  • emboss - Monday, November 05, 2007 - link

    Indeed. PCI is an "open standard" yet you have to pay four figures to (legally) get a copy of it. Not to mention that there are many other "open standards" that have licencing fees.

    Given that NVidia only have a "contact us" link for getting hold of it, and given NVidia's history of secrecy, I wouldn't be at all surprised if one or both of these situations applied here. I've fired off an email but I'm not holding my breath ...
    Reply
  • emboss - Thursday, November 08, 2007 - link

    FWIW, NVidia have still not gotten back to me about it. Seems to indicate that their "open" standard is as open as Windows. What a surprise. Reply

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