NVIDIA recently announced a new technology platform dubbed the Enthusiast System Architecture, or ESA. ESA provides information and control to enthusiasts that are not just for NVIDIA mainboards and video cards, but is compatible with components from other manufacturers. By introducing ESA, NVIDIA hopes to establish itself as the company looking for the best interests of enthusiasts.
ESA monitoring and control covers nearly all components of a PC, including processors, motherboards, video cards, cooling hardware and power supplies. The new platform can best be described as a new communication standard that will work alongside component communication standards, such as SMBus, EPP, PCIe, Serial ATA, and HyperTransport, to provide monitoring and control information to other components and software. In short, ESA ties their control and monitoring information together.
Manufacturers can implement ESA into just about every component, allowing it to manage and control anything the manufacturer chooses it to control. For example, a ESA-chassis can monitor and report temperature levels, and could then adjust case fan speeds according to the temperature.
ESA does not use a new control bus but simply communicates over USB. All that is required, in addition to ESA-hardware, is the software.Â Future plans for the new protocol include a BIOS implementation as well.
In order for components to be ESA-certified and to provide consistency, ESA supporters must set up ESA certification tests run by an independant test lab. At the very least, it is required for monitoring capabilities to be implemented in hardware for it to be ESA-certified. Once ESA standards are met, manufacturers can use the ESA logo in their packaging and advertising.
Dell, HP, NVIDIA, Alienware, Falcon Northwest, ASUS, Thermaltake, PC Power & Cooling and Gigabyte are already tenatively on-board for NVIDIA’s new platform.
There is no ESA hardware yet, though this is not NVIDIA’s first attempt at creating a ubiquitous enthusiast platform, as with the ill-fated Tritum.Â In many senses ESA is just certification for NVIDIA’s nTune software package.
Other NVIDIA certifications, like Enhanced Performance Profile (EPP), have struggled to take hold.Â JEDEC firmed denied support for EPP, only to have AMD and OCZ launch a similar but competing memory profiles shortly after.