NVIDIA nForce 790i SLI Ultra and GeForce 9800 GX2

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As it stands today, many of the major components in a typical enthusiast class PC have built-in mechanisms for monitoring the health of the device.  Processors and GPUs have internal thermal diodes for monitoring temperatures, and graphics cards and motherboards have sensors for monitoring a myriad of voltages, temperatures, and things like fan speeds.  Other components, however, like cases, power supplies, and cooling systems, for example, usually don’t have any such mechanism.  And even if they do, odds are it uses a proprietary interface that isn’t universally compatible.

To remedy this situation, the crew at NVIDIA architected a new open standard that has been gaining traction across the industry.  ESA, or the Enthusiast System Architecture, as it is known, was designed for real-time monitoring and control of PC power supplies, chassis and water cooling systems.

The ESA standard is built around the USB HID (Human Interface Device) specification and has recently been approved by the USB-if HID subcommittee.  ESA is essentially a hardware and software based interface that takes data collected by analog sensors and converts it to digital information that can accessed via software.  Below are a handful of slides that explain some of the inner workings of ESA.

ESA - Enthusiast System Architecture
Knowledge is Power


If you take a look at the slides above, they'll give you an idea as to what NVIDIA is doing with ESA.  As you'll see, ESA compliant hardware features an embedded microcontroller and will connect to a system via a standard USB cable.  Currently, NVIDIA has developed new software as an extension of their nTune system utility for use with ESA, but partners that build ESA compliant hardware can also incorporate the data into their own proprietary PC health monitoring / status applications, like Gigabyte's Easy Tune or Asus' PC Probe, for example.


The question remains, how would ESA compliant hardware affect you as an enthusiast?  As an example, let's consider a case.  An ESA compliant case could have a number of thermal sensors throughout its interior with their positions throughout the enclosure recorded in ROM.  The fans used in the case are also connected to an ESA compliant controller.  Should one of the thermal sensors in the case read a high temperature, the ESA microcontroller can instruct the necessary case fans to spin up, which will reduce the temperature.  Cooling devices can also gain new functionality like real-time monitoring of water temperatures and flow-rates and controlled fans and pumps.  And the data collected can be viewed through software or even by glancing down at LEDs that can be programmed to change colors in different scenarios.



When ESA was first announced, NVIDIA named a number of high-profile partners the company claimed were backing the ESA standard, like Asus, Dell, CoolIT, Cooler Master, Gigabyte, MSI, Thermaltake, among others.  Since that initial announcement, we've seen a number of products at events like CES that were ESA compliant.  And for this launch, NVIDIA showed off another group of products that take advantage of ESA.  We've got Silverstone's TJ10 ESA eidtion case pictured above, as well as Thermaltake's Big Water 780e liquid-cooling system, and a Top Power PSU too.  Although it wasn't clear that ESA would take off when the standard was unveiled, it appears now that more and more manufacturers are jumping on board.

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Lev_Astov 6 years ago
Awesome. I guess that kinda settles it for me, then. My next system will indeed use nvidia gpus.
peti1212 6 years ago

Yep, just saw the review a few minutes ago, very nice. I want one. :)

Marco C 6 years ago
Want one? :) what about two? hehe
frg1 6 years ago

 twos good

Crisis Causer 6 years ago

I'm impressed.  The top of the line single slot performance has arrived.  And unlike the 3870X2 which sometimes fell behind 8800GTS-512 or 8800GTX performance, the 9800GX2 is top of the line virtually everytime.  For those with SLI motherboards already, going two 8800GTS-512 might be cheaper, but for Quad-Sli boards or people with only 1 slot, this is the way to go.  If you wanna spend $600, that is.  I wonder how it will perform against the 'real' single GPU 9700/9800/9900 or whatever cards that have yet to launch.

Kamrooz 6 years ago

780 chipset updated with ddr3 support..Yea, go 790I!...no..=P...lol

Nvidia chipsets have always been buggy on the intel side. The fact that these boards are going to be expensive...Nvidia is just going to be laughing there way to the bank with this. Nvidia may make fantastic cards...But their intel chipsets are far from complete..

nelsoncp21 6 years ago

I so want that Asus MB but $469. The new features with this chipset are amazing though. I'll wait and see some results from the first batch of users to see if they're are many bugs.

willardcw4 6 years ago

600 mhz for the core clock seems a bit slow for a 512 mb card that is supposed to blow my mind (even though there are two gpus in one container)... i wonder what the overclocking capabilities of this card are... if it can be pushed to really get some juice pumped out... from the reviews i've been reading, it seems like the gx2 is simply 2 x 8800 gts g92 chips slammed together... benchmarks show 2 x 8800 gts 512mb cards > 9800 gx2!?!? its cheaper to buy two 8800 gts cards and sli em at this point =\

Crisis Causer 6 years ago

 [quote user="willardcw4"]

its cheaper to buy two 8800 gts cards and sli em at this point =\


True.  But do remember that this is a single slot card.  If you already have a motherboard you are happy with and it's single slot, then this is the best upgrade available.  Although I suspect that anyone who is willing to spend $599 on a card probably has an SLI or X-Fire motherboard, you never know.  Plus you can get Quad-Sli with only two cards here.  It's only for a limitted market I think.  How many people have 8800GTX's or Ultra's?  High end cards don't sell that well anyway.  They just have a big profit per card sold.

willardcw4 6 years ago

I do agree that having the 9800 gx2 as a single slot card is rather advantageous for quad sli, or for getting that much performance in one slot... but then I'd like to see a benchmark of quad 9800 vs tri-8800 gts in sli :)

 I just don't like something being sold for $599 + shipping that can be outperformed by a "older" architecture (which obviously isn't the case) for a cheaper price... However, I do have a feeling prices will drop fairly quick... ClubIT.com is already selling PNY 9800GX2s for $540 + shipping :)

recoveringknowitall 6 years ago

The bottom line IMO is that the GX2 is an impressive card and barely gets beats by 2 x GTS!

$600 isn't really that bad either since this beast is king of the single slot right now and should easily carry a person through 18-24 months of gaming!!!

nelsoncp21 6 years ago

I agree the price is a bit steep but it's typical for a flagship card. Look at the history of the 7000,8000 and now the 9000 series. All the flagship cards in those series fit the profile. It was either get 2 mid range cards for the same price with comparable benchmarks or get the high end card. The only difference I see though is that this is a dual gpu card. With that being said you would think they could come out with a single gpu card that could produce these results like other flagship cards have in the past.

nhwynter 6 years ago

 As I was reading the review, something struck me as odd.  Not about the 9800 GX2, but about the 8800 GTS vs the 8800 GTX.  The 8800 GTS was outperforming the 8800GTX.  Doesn't the GTX have 768 MB ram and 384 bit processing?  How does the GTS with only 512 BM ram and 256 bit processing beat it? 

 I readily admit that I haven't kept up to date like I should have, but I'd appreciate any help in understanding this.

Crisis Causer 6 years ago

[quote user="nhwynter"]

 As I was reading the review, something struck me as odd.  Not about the 9800 GX2, but about the 8800 GTS vs the 8800 GTX.  The 8800 GTS was outperforming the 8800GTX.  Doesn't the GTX have 768 MB ram and 384 bit processing?  How does the GTS with only 512 BM ram and 256 bit processing beat it? 

 I readily admit that I haven't kept up to date like I should have, but I'd appreciate any help in understanding this.


The new 8800 GTS 512mb is based on the G92 core.  It's often more efficient and thus can outperform the GTX in some games.  More often than not the GTX wins due to the sheer power of 384-bit and it's high clock, but some games like the G92 more. 

The extra memory is actually irrelevant.  Virtually no game uses more than 512mb of memory, Crysis included I believe.  It was good for advertising, but doesn't matter right now.  And future games that do use more than 512mb may nor may not be so stressful that the GTX might not even take advantage of all that memory.  But that's speculation and only time will tell.  At least with 768mb you know the ram will never limit you in a game for a looong time.

jim121 6 years ago


wow  seems impressive

but im getting a system with 3 8800 ultras with an option for getting the 3 ultras or 2 9800GX2 cards

so what do you think i should go for? as its not costing me anything extra either way

jim121 6 years ago
well after reading all the revies and the advice from everyone on here im opting for getting 2 9800GX2 cards as opposed to the originally planned 3 ultras.
thanks for everyones help in deciding this
trueg50 6 years ago

 Sweet, much better choice.


Now you will have room for a sound card!

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