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.

The ESA Box
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  • Clauzii - Tuesday, February 19, 2008 - link

    Heh, ESA is "European Space Agency".
  • Schugy - Wednesday, February 20, 2008 - link

    you're right
  • casteve - Tuesday, February 19, 2008 - link

    ...but what are the limits of what can be done without requiring reboot?

    I'd love to automatically underclock / undervolt when web browsing or idling and then go to max performance when gaming.
  • yyrkoon - Tuesday, February 19, 2008 - link

    I especially like the profile capabilities, but personally I would probably rather have the profiles save-able, and load-able from within the BIOS. Call, me a hard core old timer, or whatever, but making these adjustments from within the OS always puts a bitter taste in my mouth.

    Also, this Implementation sitting on top of the USB (bus?), I can not help but wonder what the performance implications are. Especially for USB devices such as Flash drives, or USB HDDs. Granted, I am personally seeing eSATA as the external storage 'wave' of the future, so USB in this respect would not really be much of an issue.

    I really hope OEMs in the future do not try to shovel this down out throats however, like they have done with other 'cool' ideas they would like to think they have had . . .
  • LEKO - Tuesday, February 19, 2008 - link

    BIOS = Legacy

    PC industry should have moved away from that archaic technology long time ago. We can do nearly anything in a PC... But we can't adjust basic system parameters from the OS??? Come on, we are in 2008!
  • yyrkoon - Tuesday, February 19, 2008 - link

    Sorry pal, without the BIOS, your system would not run, and since when is voltage changing, CPU frequency changing, etc, a basic system parameter ?

    If you want to pay a price premium for this technology, be my guest, but I would rather not have to pay for something you want.
  • Jedi2155 - Tuesday, February 19, 2008 - link

    I think its time for us to ditch the BIOS and get EFI on our systems...
  • ViRGE - Tuesday, February 19, 2008 - link

    Quote: "ESA can be completely Mickey Mouse if done badly, but that will be the fault of the ESA interface writer."

    Can is ESA open enough that someone else can come in and write an application with their own interface? What NVIDIA is using now may be shiny, but there's no way in heck that's very functional. Programs like SpeedFan may not be eye-catching, but I'd much rather have a less-shiny more-functional interface like that than what NVIDIA is currently showcasing.

    How on earth did they find a way to make NVIDIA Monitor worse?
  • stmok - Tuesday, February 19, 2008 - link

    Actually, that raises an interesting point.

    Wouldn't it be awesome to have a single app (Linux and Windows versions) for this ESA?

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