Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Nvidia Proposes “Enthusiast System Architecture”

Nvidia Corp. on Monday announced what it calls Enthusiast System Architecture (ESA), a special protocol that will allow to monitor and control numerous characteristics of a personal computer. Nvidia says that the new capability will allow end-users to change on-the-fly their PCs’ acoustic, electrical, thermal and performance settings.

Nowadays computer enthusiasts have to install software developed by makers of their mainboards or third-parties to control their performance and acoustic settings. However, such software either comes with pretty expensive platforms, or has certain limitations. Nvidia decided to create its own utility compatible with non-Nvidia hardware that would allow to remove the limitations and enable the aforementioned feature-set on a wide range of hardware.

The Enthusiast System Architecture (ESA) specifies an information protocol that system components can use to “communicate” with each other to adjust operating parameters, and relay important system information back to the user. By implementing ESA, PC manufacturers and do-it-yourself enthusiasts can now build finely-tuned and higher performance PCs than they could have with existing proprietary solutions.

The new ESA standard is built around the current USB HID class specification and is designed to support new monitoring and control capabilities for PC devices such as chassis, power supplies, and water and air cooling peripherals. Until the introduction of ESA, there was no standard communication protocol allowing such components to report information back to users, Nvidia stated. Essential data, such as temperature, thermal, voltage, and air flow attributes are made available in real-time and are critical to obtaining maximum PC performance and overclocking.

With ESA, component manufacturers can now embed a wide variety of digital and analog sensors into their devices which can communicate real-time data for use in analyzing and optimizing overall PC operating conditions. In addition, ESA’s logging functionality offers PC manufacturers and system builders an inexpensive and easy way to help identify PC operating abnormalities, and enable them to quickly identify and resolve customer support issues.

Nvidia indicated that such companies as Alienware, Asustek Computer, Cooler Master, CoolIT Systems, Dell, EVGA, Falcon Northwest, Gigabyte Technology, HP, Maingear, MicroStar International, PC Power & Cooling, Silverstone, Tagan, Ultra and XFX.

Even though Nvidia is well known for proposing certain standards and specifications, usually its efforts remain only inside Nvidia’s world and are not accepter by the industry. For example, back in mid-2006 the graphics chip designer proposed Enhanced Performance Profiles (EPP) technology to enable higher-speed memory modules. Even though several memory module makers released their EPP-enabled products, the technology did not turn popular.

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