June 6, 2005 4:00 AM PDT

Get ready for the 9-to-5 notebook

The magic number for notebook designers in the near future just might be eight--as in the hours of a full workday.

A somewhat outlandish idea a few years ago, the eight-hour notebook is moving closer to reality as promising trends in battery materials and power consumption converge. If all goes well, within three to four years, portable PCs could see battery life double from today's four-hour stretch.

Chipmaker Intel, in fact, is so bullish on the matter that it recently moved up a deadline for notebook makers by two years. It's now asking them to produce by 2008 thin and light notebooks that can run for eight hours without the use of additional external batteries, said Mooly Eden, vice president of the company's mobility group.

News.context

What's new:
Within three to four years, portable PCs could see battery life double from today's four-hour stretch.

Bottom line:
Rejoice, laptop owners. Battery life, a crucial consideration for fans of portables, is getting plenty of attention from makers of chips and PCs.

More stories on this topic

Notebooks are an area of keen interest for Intel and other processor companies. Chips for those systems generally sell at higher prices than their desktop counterparts, and are more profitable to boot. The notebook segment of the PC market is growing fast, and currently accounts for about 30 percent of the PC processors shipped.

Computer makers, meanwhile, are working on making notebooks lighter to help get the most life out of whatever type of battery they use.

Four hours is the current standard for thin notebooks, although that allotment remains elusive in real life.

"The spec says this, but it depends on some degree on usage," said Roger Kay, an analyst at IDC. "Batteries also don't have that life for long. They might have four hours at the beginning of the year, but if you start doing more multimedia, it might go down to 2.5 hours by the end of the year."

The biggest gains in battery life are likely to come from the guts of the batteries themselves.

For instance, start-up Zinc Matrix Power has devised a way to produce batteries out of zinc alkaline that can provide more energy than conventional lithium ion batteries but don't take up any more space inside a laptop, according to Mike Trainor, chief mobile technology evangelist at Intel.

Competitor Pionics has designed a lithium ion battery that could offer similar performance. Others are working on variations such as lithium polymer.

Can you say 'supercharged'?
"By changing the metals in the cathode you can change the capacity curve of the battery," Trainor said. "The next question is whether you can make a cathode with that mix of metals into mass production."

The equation for studying battery performance, Trainor said, is relatively straightforward: Divide the amount of energy stored in batteries--measured in watt hours--by the average power consumption of a notebook.

Today, a high-performance thin and light notebook (typically one that weighs less than 5 pounds) might come with batteries that can provide 58 watt hours of energy. The average power consumption of those notebooks, however, comes to 12 watts or more. Hence, battery life totals about four hours, at best.

The goal now is to boost capacity to 72 watt hours

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11 comments

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It's already here
Sorry, but this article caught my attention, and I have to say this. It's already here. It's called a 12 cell Lithium Ion battery. I have a Toshiba Satellite A55-S306, and Toshiba sells a 12 cell battery that will give my laptop an estimated 12 hours. I wanted desperately to flame this topic and the fact that the person who wrote it probably earns more money than I do, but I can't do that on this network.
Posted by NeoSadist (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
er, reprint: 8 hours
Sorry, make that 8 hours. However, I'm military, I'm used to 12 more than 8.
Posted by NeoSadist (2 comments )
Link Flag
No, you missed something...
Sure you have a 30 pound backpack ion juiced energy cell that you plug your laptop into, sweet... The point was for the sub 5 pound laptops with ONLY internal power cells.
Posted by zaznet (1138 comments )
Link Flag
New idea
Maybe they should daisy-chain couple of those 4-hour batteries to create one super 8 hour one.

Well this at least shows how inovative humar race is for real,we got super fast notebooks but we still can not use them as real notebooks.Mayne Intel should get into battery market and start creating 2Ghz....um wait...
Posted by (32 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Flesh this out
its nice to see progress in battery life and notebook energy consumption. but what i would really like to see is these same methods applied to desktops.

think about about much power your notebook uses. it's pretty fast isn't it? how about your desktop? how much power does it use? how fast is it?

now, how much faster is a desktop than a laptop? when matched with similar specs, they are about the same. why can't we have desktops that consume less? we won't see the benifit in our utility bills, but if everyone had more efficient computers at home, our overall electricity consumption would plumit. thats good for everyone.

i mean, look at the Apple dual G5 workstation. sure it's fast and it's a mac, but it uses up to 800 watts, if i understand correctly. i hate to rag on apple cuase they do such good work, but i would think that such an innovative company would do more to get their consumption down to moderate levels. i hope to see more progress if/when they switch to working with intel.

comments, anyone?
Posted by Dibbs (158 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Desktop power consumption ...
Desktop power consumption is rapidly becomming an issue, as more computers stay on for longer perios of time and trend to consume more as they become faster.

THG (Tom Hardware Guide) just started tracking power consumption for the new Dual core processors from Intel and AMD used in similarly configured systems.

As they found out, there is a large difference between the two processors :
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://tomshardware.com/cpu/20050509/cual_core_athlon-19.html" target="_newWindow">http://tomshardware.com/cpu/20050509/cual_core_athlon-19.html</a>
Posted by My-Self (242 comments )
Link Flag
Panasonic T4 notebook
Panasonic's T4 series weighs 1kg, 12.1" XGA screen, 1.2GHZ P-M, and the battery lasts 12 hours.
(Japanese link)
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://panasonic.jp/pc/products/t4g/index.html" target="_newWindow">http://panasonic.jp/pc/products/t4g/index.html</a>
Posted by (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Optical drive version
Both the Panasonic R4 and the T4 sport fantastic battery lives, right? But look at the W4 with DVD-RW and the life goes from 12 hours to 4 hours. Compare them here:

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.kemplar.com/panasonic_w4.php" target="_newWindow">http://www.kemplar.com/panasonic_w4.php</a>
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.kemplar.com/panasonic_t4.php" target="_newWindow">http://www.kemplar.com/panasonic_t4.php</a>

Same exact units, but one has optical and one doesn't. I'm just wandering why Panasonic can't supply the same, or at least comparable, battery life for the units with the optical drive. Does a DVD-RW really suck up *that* much energy?
Posted by (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
I discussed this with Intel 6 months ago.
I was interviewing at Intel in Jan. 2005, and asked a manager in future chip development about laptops with long battery life. He said that consumers were interested in speed, not long battery life.

It is amazing how long it takes companies to come into touch with the real world...

-Todd
Posted by (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
New Battery
I just finally gave up on my laptop battery. I would take it to work just for it to die half-way through the day. A co-worker of mine told me to go to <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.laptopsforless.com/laptopbattery" target="_newWindow">http://www.laptopsforless.com/laptopbattery</a> for really affordable and reliable batteries. I checked it out and I love my new battery. I would recommend it to anyone in need.
Posted by GreenApple123 (7 comments )
Reply Link Flag
20+ Hour Per Charge Laptop Battery
For me 9-TO-5 just isn't enough so I picked up this swift little external laptop battery from The Battery Geeks called the Portable Power Station which is giving my notebook over an additional 20 hours of run time per charge. Another cool thing about it is that I can also power and recharge my cell phone, iPod and PSP and I can also leave all my A/C adapters behind since I can also use this battery pack as one if needed.
Posted by anthonywilliams72 (2 comments )
Link Flag
 

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