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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  • PeteRoy - Tuesday, November 06, 2007 - link

    BTX was a much cheaper easier solution than this, it's too bad that the hate for intel blinded people with how great BTX is. Reply
  • Bluestealth - Tuesday, November 06, 2007 - link

    Well... it was more of Intel coming along and saying... wouldn't it be nice if you retooled all your factories for us?... I am sure in their mind it made perfect sense... however I don't think anyone else saw profit in it for them.

    What we really need is for Video Cards to start reigning in their power requirements,. It is ridiculous that you can have a nearly silent very high end system, but throw in a video card and the whole thing turns into a mini-cyclone... it makes makes up for all the noise and heat that the rest of the industry has worked on.

    This whole ESA thing is just another gimmick that I don't want or need. I hope this thing fails so I don't have to pay for the additional expense of having it in the hardware I purchase.
    Reply
  • Odeen - Monday, November 05, 2007 - link

    I propose that nVidia should not be allowed to release any new chipsets or chipset utilities until they fix ActiveArmor. That piece of networking genius sucked too many hours out of my life. Reply
  • FrankThoughts - Monday, November 05, 2007 - link

    What exactly was the point of this article? Seriously! I about puked when I saw the "industry quotes" - taken, I might add, straight from the NVIDIA slides. That was some quality writing, I tell you what! I'm not at all surprised that Falcon, HP/Voodoo, Dell/Alienware, etc. think this is great, because that's just one more way for them to try and pretend their insanely priced "gamer systems" are worth purchasing.

    I don't know that ESA is going to be a complete waste of time, but it looks more like another way to charge more money for "enthusiast" components. The stupid 1100W and higher power supplies are already making me sick. Do we really need three graphics cards? Oh, wait! There's a huge difference between 4xAA and 8xAA that we MUST HAVE!

    FWIW the GPU fans that start out quiet and then spin up to insanely loud levels are not what I want for the rest of my system. I'm much more interested in a reasonble performing system that stays quiet than uber-monitored hardware that lets me know it's overheating. As if the fans spinning at 10000 RPM weren't a good indication of that already.
    Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Monday, November 05, 2007 - link

    Since you have the nVidia slides for ESA you obviously work for another website. What did you post for ESA? Reply
  • emboss - Tuesday, November 06, 2007 - link

    Nice dodge. Actually, not really that nice, too obvious. Reply
  • FrankThoughts - Tuesday, November 06, 2007 - link

    You don't have to write for a website to find slides, or quotes. Like this material http://www.nvidia.com/object/io_1194260551610.html">direct from the NVIDIA press release. That takes care of the Dell and HP quotes. I have written nothing about ESA online, other than these comments. I have, however, seen a couple different PPT files on the subject. Most of those are no longer available, but it's amazing what turns up on the internet now and then. I think I even had a draft version of the ESA presentation before NVIDIA even held their Editor's Day! LOL

    I appreciate that you were somewhat cautious in the conclusion, but that whole section on industry support and ESA problem solving just smacked of marketing rather than reporting. Numerous other sentences were ripped directly from the press release/marketing materials. If this were an English assignment, you'd be in serious jeopardy for plagiarism. Considering you write for a respected (mostly) publication, this might be even worse.

    The truth is that we still know basically nothing about the actual ESA hardware and software. Will it rock my world or will it just add bloat and cost? I can tell you how many times I've used nTune (a couple tries initially, followed by a return to the BIOS as it was more useful). I doubt ESA software is going to be dramatically better. Different, sure, but probably not better.

    http://enthusiast.hardocp.com/article.html?art=MTQ...">[T also has most of the slides, for the interested.
    Reply
  • FrankThoughts - Tuesday, November 06, 2007 - link

    That was supposed to be http://enthusiast.hardocp.com/article.html?art=MTQ...">TardOCP. Seems the comment system doesn't like brackets within links or something. Reply
  • vhx - Monday, November 05, 2007 - link

    I sure they implement and code this better than nTune, which is so buggy in its current state. Reply
  • Ytterbium - Monday, November 05, 2007 - link

    WS-Management has been around for a while and was developed for server for the same sort of purposes. Reply

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