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NVIDIA ESA: Enthusiast System Architecture Review

Author: Ryan Shrout
Manufacturer: NVIDIA

NVIDIA System Monitor

Even though the ESA standard is an open one, and anyone is able to write software to access the data it provides, NVIDIA knew it would need to develop its own software to show of the technology.  So in comes an entirely new suite of applications starting with the NVIDIA Monitor tool.

This is the new tool – quite striking, isn’t it?  The opacity of the transparent section is adjustable from completely opaque to completely translucent.  The wheel of icons in the middle rotates when using the arrow keys or by click on the item you want to monitor with the mouse cursor. 

In this first image you can see we are monitoring the main CPU and can see many traits of the CPU at a quick glance – CPU usage, temperature, voltage, multiplier and frequency to name the major ones. 

This shot shows the reported items on the CoolIT branded water cooling system installed in our system. There are two temperatures reported, Coolant A Temp and Coolant A – your guess is as good as our when it comes to what the difference between the two are.

Next up is the power supply from Tagan: it is showing the amperage and voltages of the various rails including the all important 12V.  A couple temperatures are thrown in the mix as well including the overall PSU temp and the primary coil temperature.  These are good to have but most users could probably use some reference as to what is normal on these power supplies. 

Even the hard drive is caught up in the ESA madness though in this instance it’s just a measurement of disk usage – something that hard drive vendors don’t have to implement for NVIDIA’s monitoring software to take advantage of it.

Ah yes, the glorious 3D motherboard on display.  There are lots of good information listings here including everything from front-side bus to the chipset fan speed and the south bridge voltage. 

At the memory level the NVIDIA software is reporting the voltage, clock rate and memory usage (in percentage).  It also lists the reported model number of the memory as you can see; we are running Corsair’s CM2X-8500 DIMMs. 

Access to graphics card information is granted of course for NVIDIA software though not through the ESA standard.  We can read the GPU temperature, core clock, memory clock and even the shader clock in the system monitor.

The Cooler Master Cosmos 1000 chassis that our test system is built on shows a surprising amount of data in the monitoring application.  There are four total thermal sensors to read, though their placement inside the case is completely unknown from the screen, and two fan systems to view.  Both exhaust and intake fans are displaying their rate of speed and what power percentage is being pushed to them.

This shot is very similar to the previous, but notice that the “Thermal Sensor 3” result is blank.  Then look at the top and find it, along with numerous other readings, on display.  By double clicking on a value you can promote it to the top of the screen, the first step you use to allow you to monitor a result while in your normal Windows environment.