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New battery saving tricks and UMPC uses

by Steve Kerrison on 29 September 2006, 10:43

Tags: Intel (NASDAQ:INTC)

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We continue our coverage of Dadi Perlmutter's IDF keynote with a look at the battery saving technologies he discussed, along with a brief look at a couple of UMPCs.

Perlmutter started off by showing everyone a rather archaic Osborne 'Personal' computer. Even the Osborne was portable, but not exactly not we'd call 'mobile', especially when it was sat next to a slip Dell laptop.

Since the launch of Centrino, Intel has seen a tremendous growth in the sale of notebook hardware. Over 50% of PC purchases are now notebooks, and even in emerging markets, notebooks hold a large slice of the market.

Battery life is one of the big reasons laptop sales are increasing, thanks to power consumption reductions in chipsets and CPU. However, Perlmutter said that power consumption should be worked on everywhere throughout the platform, not just in specific parts. He explained that cutting power consumption by 1 watt adds on as much as 25 minutes to battery life. Intel's Robson technology shaves about 0.4W off power consumption, for example.

A new display technology was demoed during the keynote. It had been developed with Matsushita in an effort to adjust the amount of power a TFT uses depending on what it's doing. For example, when doing work that isn't graphically intensive, the display would interlace the output. However, start watching a movie and the display goes progressive.

Santa Rosa introduces further new power saving features. The FSB will be bumped up to 800MHz, but there'll be a new super low frequency FSB mode of 400MHz when CPU usage is very low. The Crestline chipset also works better with Core 2's enhanced deeper sleep mode. In this mode, the CPU flushes its caches so that it can power them down and save energy. However, if the chipset performs a memory transaction it checks the CPU caches, forcing the CPU to 'wake up'. Crestline knows when the CPU is in enhanced deeper sleep and so can avoid this wasteful step. Perlmutter said it was important be efficient and only have the CPU do real work.


Further into the keynote, Perlmutter briefly showed off a couple of UMPCs. One was running feature rich content provided by Yahoo!, demonstrating that UMPCs have the power to do pretty much everything a regular PC can, from watch videos to check e-mails. Perlmutter then showed a concept UMPC for use in schools. It was designed to be rugged and easy to carry around and would, he said, help enhance children's' learning experiences.

We're still on the fence about the UMPC, but Intel still seems rather enthusiastic about it. Is there room for a device between a notebook and a mobile/PDA?

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