June 6, 2005 4:00 AM PDT
Get ready for the 9-to-5 notebook
- Related Stories
Via touts chip for low-cost notebooksMay 27, 2005
Samsung hybrid hard drive works while it sleepsApril 25, 2005
IBM pours a shot of methanol for ThinkPadsApril 11, 2005
Batteries better, but are they still guilty as charged?November 23, 2004
(continued from previous page)
and reduce average power consumption to 9 watts.
"Internally, we call it 1-2-6: one watt for the processor, two for the chipset and six for the rest of the system. If you want to get to eight hours, we recommend integrated graphics in chipsets," Trainor said. "We can demonstrate lab-built batteries that can do 72 watt hours and we believe one or more companies will be in production in reasonable volumes" toward 2008.Easy on the gas pedal
Other elements of a notebook also make a difference. For the last several years, component makers steadily increased energy efficiency in many parts. LCD manufacturers, for instance, started to sell panels that consumed only 3 watts of power on average, a substantial improvement. LCD panels typically account for about 30 percent of overall notebook power consumption.
Another recent improvement for screens comes in the form of Intel's Display Power Saving Technology. With it, the pixels in a digital picture or graphic image are opened wider than normal, which lets more light in. In ordinary circumstances, the added light would wash out the picture, but the chipset also turns down the light source inside the panel. In the end, the image looks the same, but overall power consumption eases back from 4.8 watts to 3.2 watts. (The technology in part derives from Taiwan's Toppoly, in which Intel Capital has made an investment.)
On the other hand, screens that use OLED, or organic light-emitting diode, technology may take awhile to reach notebooks. Cell phone manufacturers already use them. But cell phone screens are mostly dark--only the numbers light up--while notebook screens are generally fully lit. OLEDs, therefore, may not provide power consumption advantages, Trainor theorized.
The hard drive, which on average consumes about 8 percent of a notebook's overall power, will also see improvements. At Microsoft's WinHEC gathering earlier this spring, Samsung showed off a hard drive in which most data gets stored to flash memory first. With the addition of flash, the hard drive can hibernate most of the time, and thereby extend battery life of a notebook by a half hour or more, according to Samsung.
Intel's upcoming Yonah notebook chip, due in the first quarter of 2006, will also consume less power than current Pentium M processors, Eden said. In addition, chipsets will begin to include more energy efficiency technology. Chipsets typically cost far less than processors and the same degree of energy conservation has not been applied to them.
Competitor Via Technologies also recently came out with a power-efficient notebook chip, the C7.
Despite the changes, consumers aren't likely to see radical shifts in notebook design. Enthusiasm for fuel cells, for instance, appears to be waning.
Fuel cells are bulky, Trainor said, and more time and money will be required to shrink them. Energy efficiency will also have to be improved. In addition, fuel cell refills will cost money, in contrast with the seemingly no-cost charging of a lithium ion battery via a wall socket.
"It may be the next decade," Trainor said," before we see fuel cells inside the battery cavity."
11 commentsJoin the conversation! Add your comment