How ESA Works

ESA will not use a new control bus, but will instead communicate over a standard USB interface. ESA sits on top of the existing USB specification and all that's really necessary is software to listen for and potentially adjust any ESA-enabled devices. Other software is already sitting on top of USB, so ESA is fortunately not breaking any new ground in how it works. The standards already exist and NVIDIA has already submitted ESA to the USB-if HID subcommittee for discussion.

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As you can see, ESA is both a hardware and a software interface. Components that report ESA data and allow control must be ESA compliant. Software that reports and controls ESA components can exist either as a standard application running on top of an OS, as part of the BIOS, or it can load before an OS - or any combination of these approaches. For those familiar with USB it is OS independent, operating before the OS loads, and thus ESA can eventually be OS independent.

Software ties ESA together. As you can see in the upcoming utility that will be introduced with the 780i chipset, ESA compliant power supplies, cases, water coolers, and many other component classes can be monitored and controlled by the NVIDIA software. However, any hardware or software vendor - or a talented enthusiast - could write ESA software as ESA is an open standard. As the impetus for ESA, NVIDIA certainly has the lead in supporting ESA at this time, but if the standard is widely adopted you will see ESA components and hardware appearing from many directions.

ESA Certification

To provide consistency in ESA compliance, current ESA supporters have set up ESA certification by an independent test lab. Allion is a leading IT testing organization and is the testing lab for ESA. Allion will evaluate devices for compliance with the ESA standard and cross device compatibility.

At the very minimum, a device seeking ESA certification will have to implement the monitoring capabilities of the ESA standard - though not every type of device will need to monitor the same options, so for example one PSU may only elect to report certain voltage outputs. As an enthusiast tool, of course, every company developing ESA compliant components is also encouraged to provide control functions for the hardware. We see such things as power supplies that allow users to tweak voltage outputs and control PS fan speeds (and therefore noise) through software.

Components - like motherboards, power supplies, cases, and cooling devices - that meet ESA compliance and compatibility standards can use the ESA logo in their advertising and packaging. This will make it easier for computer enthusiasts to find components that will work with their ESA system.
What is ESA? Who Is Supporting ESA?


View All Comments

  • 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">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.">[T also has most of the slides, for the interested.
  • FrankThoughts - Tuesday, November 6, 2007 - link

    That was supposed to be">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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