ESA is not a corporate wide standard...it's an nVidia ONLY standard that nVidia made. nVidia doesn't do anything with Intel chipsets, so that's pretty much out the window unless you run AMD on an nVidia Chipset. Not a standard it seems if you need to run certain parts for certain situations. ESA is an nVidia chipset only program by any other terms and far from being a standard adopted by any official consortium.
ESA died at birth. Jip has it right in that using the BIOS to control the fan headers on your, or any, motherboard is the best method. If you don't like hearing the fans ramp up on CPU load, then just turn it off and let them be constant. Temps will rise, but who really cares? It's not hurting performance for the CPU to go from 25C to 45C...you've got room to run in.
Ah, when I say standard I'm not saying universally accepted. In order for ESA to work a great number of companies had to be on board to even achieve the interface necessary to make ESA work. Admittedly it is more of a standard set by nvidia and partners, but it IS a standard. Once upon a time Motorola PowerPC chips were the standard in Macs, things change. I would not say that ESA died at birth. It's more likely that it never caught on because not too long afterward Intel introduced DMI and locked nvidia out of the chipset party by refusing them a license. What power user would not want an ESA capable machine?! Unfortunately, right now it's Intel's world and we just live in it.
Personally, I am of the opinion that BIOS controls are always favorable to software controls offered from within the OS. Overclocking, fan control, etc. We'll see how EUFI stacks up when it's universally adopted, but I always prefer to set available system settings in the BIOS.
As far as thermal controls go, a liquid cooling loop performs better when it runs at a constant speed. I'm not talking about the difference between 25C and 45C, I'm talking about the difference between 50C and 80C with a max overclock. This is the overclocking section, do not forget that. It takes a significant amount of time for a pump and radiator to catch up to a thermal limit when enabling power saving features.
ESA is open source. Any third party MFG can offer support...http://www.anandtech.com/show/2370/3