Enthusiast System Architecture (ESA) was announced at NVIDIA Editor's Day last October. The new and innovative system control interface was covered in our NVIDIA Introduces ESA. Just six weeks later there were already enough working ESA components to assemble a test system, and there has been a working ESA system resident at AnandTech since late December. The idea was to live with the ESA system so we could show readers exactly what kind of monitoring and performance you could extract from an ESA system.
During that period, NVIDIA has worked hard to provide updates and tweaks to the hardware and software that make up the ESA standard. That process is continuing. In a very significant development NVIDIA will be announcing approval of the ESA standard by the USB standards committee at CeBIT. This means the pace of ESA innovation and adoption will likely pick up since it is now an official standard that will work on top of standard USB.
ESA is nothing more than a communications and control protocol and it requires ESA-enabled hardware to work. This article details ESA as a monitoring interface, an area where at present it is already pretty mature. However, this is not the full-blown ESA performance control article we have been promising, because that is still a work in progress - one that is seeing rapid development now.
ESA is maturing, and most overclocking controls work just fine, but we agree with NVIDIA that ESA as a performance interface must be capable of the same overclocking performance as a carefully tweaked BIOS. With our 680i box, ESA overclocking is not to that point yet but it is getting closer. With the final tweaks and general release of the 780/790 NVIDIA chipsets it is fully expected that ESA as an overclocking and system tweaking control center will be fully realized.
The ESA test system will continue to evolve over the next few weeks as NVIDIA will update the motherboard for even better performance control. Current ESA monitoring functions and the very useful profiles work just fine now and that will be the subject of this review. When NVIDIA shipped us the ESA demo system their goal was to demonstrate the monitoring capabilities of ESA. Now they are hard at work finalizing the ESA interface as a very capable performance control and overclocking system without compromise.