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Intel works to extend mobile device battery life by solving radio problems

Intel Labs is developing new hardware to analyze data flow to laptops, and has integrated a Wi-Fi radios in a chip

By Agam Shah
September 13, 2012 04:44 PM ET

IDG News Service - Intel on Thursday showed off technologies for the future that are designed to improve the computing experience by extending the battery life of PCs, making devices smaller and enabling always-on communications.

In a keynote with the theme of "Vintage Tomorrows," a take on future technology, Intel's chief technology officer Justin Rattner presented networking and communication technologies that could improve the battery life on PCs, and even tablets and smartphones.

Some of the technology shown during the keynote at the Intel Developer Forum was designed to reduce the stress on CPUs. People want their devices to appear to be awake and always available, but communications can reduce battery life tremendously.

"When you look at mobility and wireless technology, you start to realize there are a large number of tradeoffs. One of those tradeoffs is convenience ... versus battery life," Rattner said.

Intel is integrating the communication radios inside CPUs and is also working on a communications chip that can intelligently evaluate data packets to ensure only relevant data is delivered to devices. The technologies reduce the stress on the CPU, which in turn improves the battery life of PCs on active usage and idle time.

One of the advances that was presented was called Spring Meadow, a networking chip that evaluates each data packet sent to an active PC. After evaluation, the important packets are sent to the PC, while the useless ones are trashed. The processing of data packets is off-loaded to the communications chip, which reduces the stress on the CPU.

The communications chip could save half the power consumed by CPUs, said Charlie Tai, principal engineer at Intel Labs, during an on-stage presentation. This technology could be especially useful with more data flowing in from the cloud to mobile devices.

"It's still a prototype, it's getting better everyday," Tai said.

The new technology is an enhancement of Intel's technology called SmartConnect, which is available on ultrabooks today. Much like on smartphones and tablets, SmartConnect keeps important social network feeds and email flowing even when an ultrabook is in idle mode. Spring Meadow is an implementation for when ultrabooks are in active usage, when data flow is much heavier, Tai said.

Intel also showed off a chip code-named Rosepoint, which integrates the Wi-Fi radio inside an Atom chip. The chip has two low-power Atom cores, an integrated Wi-Fi radio as well as DDR3 memory and PCI-Express I/O interfaces. Higher-level integration reduces the number of chips and enable smaller and more power-efficient devices. Intel initially talked about Rosepoint in February, but this is the first time the company showed off a chip. Rattner did not say when the chip would reach devices.

Reprinted with permission from IDG.net. Story copyright 2014 International Data Group. All rights reserved.
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