Final Words

One of the frustrations of technology launches, as opposed to actual hardware and software launches, is that no matter what you write it ends up sounding something like a commercial for the product. That is why all the writers at AnandTech much prefer the hard reality of testing a product at launch, where we can make comparisons.

Today is the technology launch of ESA, with hardware officially launching shortly. However, ESA is a new standard, driven by hardware and software, more than it is a static product. As such, it is much easier to look at ESA for the potential it could bring to a market with no real standards in system monitoring and control. ESA will try to be that new standard, and we certainly welcome NVIDIA's earnest attempt to bring some standardization and additional tools to enthusiasts and system builders. The result could be the best performing systems we have ever seen - or the quietest systems or the most self-regulating systems. Certainly, the potential is there.

How fast ESA develops into a truly effective set of system tools depends on how widely adopted the standard becomes, and how fast component manufacturers embrace the standard. NVIDIA already has laid some excellent groundwork for the ESA standard as evidenced by the large number of important industry manufacturers who have already signed on to use ESA. The company is confident that ESA will emerge as a building block for Smart PCs - confident enough that they shared their vision of the future of ESA.

This year's ESA launch will see the initial launch of ESA components, with a heavy slant toward devices communicating monitoring information to the software interface. In 2008, NVIDIA believes we will begin to see ESA+PC Control and the development of ESA scripting languages. This could enable some very large steps toward system control and tuning, as utilities that address this segment have been decidedly lacking up until now. Finally, in 2009 NVIDIA expects to see Intelligent Agents and ESA utilities that work before loading of the OS. Removing ESA from the constraints of OS software will certainly speed development of the Smart PC as ESA evolves.

It is often difficult in the PC industry for one company to develop and champion a new PC standard. The business is competitive, and manufacturers are often distrustful of each other's motives. We are very happy NVIDIA decided ESA should be an open standard available to all, that certification for ESA is in the hands of an independent testing laboratory, and that NVIDIA has quickly built an impressive list of well-known launch partners for ESA components. All of these developments point toward a real effort to establish a new standard that will benefit computer enthusiasts and their suppliers; we can even see the potential for ESA support to trickle down into non-enthusiast market segments over time, provided it gains enough traction.

Looking ahead, it is our plan to take a closer look at an ESA system with as many ESA certified components as there are available to see how they work together. There will also be an eye toward how they might work together in the future. When we actually touch and see ESA working with a large array of off-the-shelf components we can be more confident of where ESA may go. The demonstrations at NVIDIA only scratched the surface, and while they looked interesting we want to see more.

ESA may be the winner for the new system standard for monitoring and control, or it may languish in the market place. You and manufacturers will decide if ESA is a winner. We think the idea is a good one, and if not ESA it will likely be something very similar that will take system control to the next level.
ESA Problem Solving


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  • Spuke - Monday, November 05, 2007 - link

    I'm not getting this until I see some friggin benchmarks. And, to the person that stole my UT3 username, may you rot in hell. Reply
  • johnsonx - Monday, November 05, 2007 - link

    I don't know why, but as I read all this the first thing that popped into my head is that a virus could interface to the ESA controls and shut down your fans, fiddle with the voltages, reset all the warning thresholds, and generally screw up your system at a hardware level. This is something that has generally been impossible thus far (despite the various hoaxes about some virus that will destroy your monitor, fry your mainboard, and kill your cat). Hopefully nVidia and friends are considering this possibility as they go forward with this excellent concept.
  • Shortass - Monday, November 05, 2007 - link

    Agreed, that would be utterly terrifying if a new Trojan came out that not only screwed up your files and locked you out of your system, but also overvolted all of your components and turned your fans down to 0%. Eeeek. Reply
  • Plasmoid - Monday, November 05, 2007 - link

    Sounds nice.

    Sounds a lot like what Abit have been doing with uGuru for the past 5 years.

    Give me the ability to control my fan speed and clock speed by profiles, and change them with a hotkey, and im sold. The rest of the stuff sounds pretty handy too.
  • xsilver - Tuesday, November 06, 2007 - link

    Yes I think abit is the master of this kind of stuff.
    uguru is the only thing I miss on my old system.

    Even new asus boards dont support for advanced monitoring/tweaking abilities.

    My main miss is the ability to overclock/underclock on the fly in windows. Ati tool already has a profile scheme where if it detects if a game is being launched it will switch to 3d profile; why does this not exist for CPU's and other components?
  • yacoub - Monday, November 05, 2007 - link

    There are two things that matter a lot when it comes to system monitoring/controlling software:

    Bloat - How much does it impact system response/performance? How much system resources are taken up running the software?

    Interface - Is it small and configurable, or ugly and large like most of this crap when it comes from the OEM instead of a 3rd party user? One thing you'll notice with tools like ATiTool and SpeedFan is that they are designed to be unobtrusive, configurable, and light (from a resources perspective).

    Most OEM tools are giant GUIs with a few buttons surrounded by tons of whitespace or ugly, space-wasting colored graphics and pointless clutter that would appeal more to an eight-year-old than an adult. They also tend to be bloated, taking a long time to load and using a lot of system resources just to monitor the system, which is counterproductive.

    So until we see how this system rates in those two areas, we don't really have the info we need to make a judgment call as to whether this move by NVidia is progress or regression.
  • Ryanman - Thursday, November 08, 2007 - link

    Given, Im no programmer, but couldn't the "bloat" issue be fixed with a couple different modes or something?

    You have the full on mode that can render the 3d temperature, monitor all systems, etc. etc. And then when you get in game (surely you could configure the program to automatically notice once your system is being monopolized by an application that needs it and "tone down" to where it's only monitoring CPU/RAM use and a couple temperatures (CPU, GPU, HDD) like Logitech's G15 Programs. Hopefully you won't be overclocking or optimizing while playing crisis.

    And a sleek UI isn't that hard to make. Get a graphic designer and a couple UI experts to do it, can't be too expensive. Make the buttons big and some color options and I'll have it running all the time.

    I'm personally VERY excited about this. I'm an ATI fanboy but ideas like ESA, trying to unify PC enthusiast use (like, say game consoles) is always a good thing. And people may not care about high-end systems and say this is useless, but one of the fun things about this platform is squeezing as much as possible out of it. Let the games begin.
  • pugster - Monday, November 05, 2007 - link

    I think it would be the first good move by the manufacturers. We can probably get rid of the excessive software bloat by the hardware manufacturers including software included by sound cards, video cards, and motherboards. I don't know about the hardware manufacturers giving up control of their hardware to software tweaks. Reply
  • goinginstyle - Monday, November 05, 2007 - link

    I am sorry but this article read like the press release from nvidia this morning. If ESA is all that then why not show us the hardware and software working together today? It just appears to be one more way for nvidia to try to control the desktop. Before you start yelling about open platforms, no company goes through this trouble without expecting something in return. That is why it would be interesting to see how well it works on a nvidia designed board compared to one from asus or msi. If something looks like a fish, smells like a fish, then it usually is a fish and this one might also be full of mercury. We go from the great 8800GT release to this in one week. :( Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Monday, November 05, 2007 - link

    As I said in the review Final Words:

    "One of the frustrations of technology launches, as opposed to actual hardware and software launches, is that no matter what you write it ends up sounding something like a commercial for the product. That is why all the writers at AnandTech much prefer the hard reality of testing a product at launch, where we can make comparisons."

    However, ESA is a proposed new standard for communication and control more than a real product. We plann to evaluate an ESA enabled system with as many ESA components as possible as soon it is available. At this point the new ESA chipset itself is not even launched.

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