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Gaming PC makers team for open standard monitoring spec

Nvidia and some of the leading lights in gaming PCs have introduced what they claim is a fully open software specification to allow control apps to monitor key PC components in real time - the better, they claimed, to help enthusiasts fine-tune their systems.

Dubbed the Enthusiast System Architecture (ESA), the system allows users to monitor or at least log what the PC's power supply; chassis features such as lighting; the motherboard and chipset; the cooling system; graphics cards; memory and CPU are doing as they're doing it.

The data is fed to monitor app via USB 2.0 where it can be used to determine why a machine crashed or to alert the user to potential problems before a crash occurs. The information can also be used to help users balance performance and noise, perhaps for a living room PC.

This isn't a new notion. However, for the first time in the gaming PC arena, ESA's backers are attempting to set the system up as an open, royalty free standard, to ensure as many vendors support it as possible and that their products can be monitored by any other ESA-compliant app. Instead of a separate monitor app for each component, with ESA you can oversee every component from one tool.

ESA backers, including Dell, HP, Nvidia, CoolerMaster, Asus, MSI, Gigabyte, Tagan and Thermaltake, today published version 1.0 of the specification, which states what a PC components must feature to allow them to have the ESA logo stamped on their boxes. Initial certification will be overseen by testing company Allion.

The first ESA-compliant systems, motherboards, and components will be available starting in late November from various ESA-development partners.

But that's just a first step. Next year, ESA supporters anticipate the development of scripting languages that can use all this data to trigger specific actions, such as slowing components if the system gets too hot. That, in turn, will form the basis for smart software agents to enable a self-monitoring, self-healing PC.

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