How It Works
DES is similar to ASUS' EPU or Energy Processing Unit, but it's much more advanced and doesn't rely on an IC circuit as it has been done by an improved motherboard design in combination with a new range of PWM controllers from Intersil. What this allows GIGABYTE to do is to switch on and off power phases on the motherboard on the fly as needed. As an example, in idle mode the motherboards with DES will run as a three phase board since there's no real power load and the CPU doesn't need much power. However, when you start a game, the DES will kick in and load up as many phases as needed, although this is dependent on the board you have so it can be anything between six and 12 phases.
It might not load up the full amount even when you're playing a game, as the DES will sense how much power is needed and adjust how many phases should be switched on based on the load, and since very few games are using 100% of the CPU, maybe four or five are used, again depending on the board design. By using this kind of an approach you get a smoother transition than ASUS' EPU which only switches between four and eight phases. In addition it allows for better efficiency per step, as it will only enable as many power phases as needed which means less power draw from idle to full CPU usage.
This might sound like a load of marketing talk, and truth be told it won't save you loads of money, but it really depends on the electricity costs where you live. In any case, it'll give you a feel good feeling, as you know you're not wasting more electricity than you have to when you're using your PC. On the other hand, if you're running a business and you have 20 to 100 computers, then you'll quite quickly realize that if your computers draw less power you'll save a lot of cash on your electricity bill in the long run.
GIGABYTE is estimating that they'll sell some 10 million motherboards in 2008 with DES and that should offer quite a significant power saving if every user enables DES. There are currently some limitations when using DES which is mostly in the way of overclocking, but this is something GIGABYTE is working on solving. To take advantage of DES on a compatible motherboard you currently have to download a new BIOS version which you can find here as well as a Windows utility that allows you to control the DES functionality.
The Windows utility also gives you a nice little read-out of how much power you've saved, and for those that don't like flashing lights on their motherboard there's also the option to switch them off in this utility. GIGABYTE provided us with a board to do some testing on to see how well DES works and we'll have some more information on the subject towards the end of next week if all goes well. The great thing is that you don't have to be an environmental nut to do your bit when it comes to saving energy and you could even end up saving some money in the long run, which is never a bad thing. The official launch for DES is the 16th of January, so expect a whole lot more stuff on this by then.
You can find some more information as well as some demos over at GIGABYTE's DES site here.