"Nvidia is pushing hard on the platform front with its technology portfolio – ESA, EPP 2.0 and SLI are all core Nvidia products associated with the nForce 790i Ultra SLI motherboard and this launch. While some are open standards, so no royalties are claimed when using them, it doesn't mean all is well for the ultra-high-end user.
To say the cost of upgrading to use the nForce 790i (Ultra) SLI is significant is certainly an understatement: on top of one of the most expensive motherboards ever sold, you'll need super expensive performance DDR3 memory (with EPP 2.0) to make the most of it. Then there's the fact that running at over 1,600MHz limits the board to just two DIMM slots, so running 4GB in 2x2GB has just gone from selling organs to selling your children as well.
There is a value add with all manners of SLI support, but you can get that with plenty of other nForce 7-series boards, although in this case the north bridge is tweaked to use SLI better. ESA is entirely optional if you want to invest in it or not and again provides an upgrade feature choice – that said, we expect this more to be jumped upon by companies that build complete systems, rather than end users.