If AMD has its way, your next notebook could offer more information on how it uses battery life.
If you've purchased a laptop recently, one requirement on your mind was likely battery life. Unless you plan on leaving your notebook on a desk for the majority of its lifespan, a manufacturer's estimate regarding mobile operating time is a vital statistic. From the 9-plus hours some netbooks claim to squeeze out of a battery to the two hours one might see with a 17-inch gaming powerhouse, battery life is almost as important to some as RAM or processor speed.
With laptops now representing a far greater chunk of computer sales compared to several years ago, many believe it's high time that manufacturers offer up both additional and accurate information regarding battery life. If a company claims its product can run on battery for four hours, what kind of conditions is that number coming from? Is it four hours on simple web surfing, or four hours while playing a game or watching DVDs?
Nigel Dessau, AMD's Chief Marketing Officer, wants a new metric for measuring laptop battery life. "Have you experienced a difference between your devices’ actual battery life relative to what the manufacturer tells you to expect? I thought so," said Dessau in a company blog. "Given this, it’s interesting to look at how PCs are rated on battery life. Typically you only get one number - and most people have no idea what that number really means in terms of how they will actually use the device...does this number represent the PC’s battery life with the machine in use, or sitting idle?"
Dessau then goes on to compare two different systems - one with an AMD Turion Ultra processor and one with an Intel Core 2 Duo processor. When his team ran MobileMark07, the figures show a large discrepancy between the two systems in terms of idle time. However, when both systems run 3DMark06 to measure battery life, the AMD and Intel laptops have near identical running times. Because of this, Dessau believes that laptop makers should start offering separate battery life estimates for idle time and work hours.
So what does rival Intel think about the metric proposal? “There are many ways to measure battery life,” said an Intel spokeswoman to the Wall Street Journal. “We believe the best way to determine how to measure battery life is by making proposals and debating it in industry consortiums and not via blog posts.” Sure, the results of an AMD vs. Intel laptop showdown run by AMD should be taken with caution, but definitively knowing that a laptop will idle for 6 hours but only play DVDs for two hours would certainly be welcome by consumers.