Nvidia and a number of other equipment makers OEMs have introduced a specification that they claim is the industry’s first open-standard PC monitoring and control protocol.
The Enthusiast System Architecture (ESA) allows for the real-time communication and control of PC power supplies, chassis features (such as lighting), and water-cooling systems. Users can also monitor the motherboard, chipsets and graphics cards. This, claims Nvidia, will allow users to "fine-tune” their systems.
The ESA specification 1.0 is very similar to any other specification on how devices communicate with each other such as PCI Express, or USB, or IEEE1394," said Tom Petersen, Nvidia technical marketing director.
"ESA is really just another specification," he continued. "The difference is that ESA will allow devices that today don’t have any mechanism for communicating to become part of the global communication network inside of your PC."
ESA has been backed by some big names including the likes of Dell, HP, Nvidia, Alienware and Asus, as well as lesser known outfits including CoolerMaster, MSI, Gigabyte, Tagan, and Thermaltake.
While it initially feels like the spec is more suited to the gaming industry, there is little doubt this will trickle down into more mainstream computers in the near future.
Petersen confirmed the spec has been derived from the gaming market, which is well known for overclocking and tweaking to get most of PCs. “Overclocking means pushing PC into stuff it wasn’t designed to do,” he said. "So you need to observe everything such as temperatures and power supplies to see how they are coping.”
“For example, if you look in power supplies there is a common phenomenon that as the temperature increases, power output decreases,” said Petersen. "In that case you need to increase fan speed."
"The key with ESA is that you can tell why this is happening,” he said and feels this will translate to more reliable, quieter, and configurable PCs.
“We are doing it in an open way," said Petersen. "We have contributed the spec to standard bodies and working with all major OEMs and all major system builders and all component manufacturers."
He thinks the first ESA-compliant systems, motherboards, and components will be available in the next couple of months from various ESA-development partners. In the future, it has been mooted that scripting languages could be developed that will trigger certain actions based on the feedback it gets, such as increasing fan speed if a component gets too hot. This could lead to a computer becoming self monitoring and even self healing.