A couple of the nicer utilities available with any motherboard chipset are NVIDIA's NV Monitor and nTune. They only work completely on NVIDIA chipsets, and not all manufacturers have implemented all the hooks necessary to support the software utility. However, when it is available and working properly it provides a lot of info about your system and a fair amount of system control. When the NVIDIA 680i was our cooling test motherboard we used NV Monitor to measure CPU temperature, in a large part because we found the utility easy to use and it provided very repeatable results.

nTune also works on any motherboard to control NVIDIA video cards, which it can do automatically or manually. However, on an NVIDIA chipset like the 680i nTune has many additional capabilities. As we saw in the 680i launch, nTune 5.05 had ambitions to become the control center for overclocking your motherboard and video card. Of course, this only worked at launch if your motherboard had an NVIDIA 680i chipset, you used an NVIDIA 8800 video card, and the manufacturer fully implemented the nTune hooks. NVIDIA has expanded nTune with new hardware introductions, but many computer enthusiasts - the primary target of the utility - still seem to either ignore or at best feel ambivalent towards the tool.

One thing was very clear in that introduction, however. NVIDIA had a great interest in providing enthusiasts with all the overclocking tools they could to set NVIDIA apart as being the company for enthusiasts. With each new chipset, the enthusiast tools seem to get a bit more ambitious.

Today, with the coming introduction of the NVIDIA 780i chipset, NVIDIA is looking to make serious changes to what is possible with enthusiast systems by launching a new technology platform. The name of the new standard is ESA - Enthusiast System Architecture. Its goal is to provide information and control to enthusiasts not just for NVIDIA motherboards and video cards, but to provide that information and control for many other components in an ESA-enabled system.

ESA monitoring and control will extend to processors, motherboards, video cards, cooling hardware, and power supplies. This is not necessarily everything ESA can monitor and control, but it is a starting point. In theory, any component could implement ESA and potentially be controlled by ESA.

ESA hardware and the software to monitor/manage it will not be available for a few weeks, but NVIDIA has chosen today to allow editors to start talking about the ESA specification. This means a closer look at what ESA really is, how it works, who has signed on to provide ESA components, and how this will all work in providing the enthusiast unprecedented control of their computer system.
What is ESA?


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  • PeteRoy - Tuesday, November 6, 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 6, 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.
  • Odeen - Monday, November 5, 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 5, 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.
  • Wesley Fink - Monday, November 5, 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 6, 2007 - link

    Nice dodge. Actually, not really that nice, too obvious. Reply
  • FrankThoughts - Tuesday, November 6, 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.
  • FrankThoughts - Tuesday, November 6, 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 5, 2007 - link

    I sure they implement and code this better than nTune, which is so buggy in its current state. Reply
  • Ytterbium - Monday, November 5, 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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