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Apple Files Patent to Make a Zero-Power PSU

By - Source: USPTO | B 94 comments

Is this an obvious way to improve PSUs?

Apple just applied for a patent that would grant it the rights to a zero-power PSU that would use no power when a connected electronic device is turned off.

Apple's idea is based on creating a much more complex AC/DC unit, which consists of the usual regulating circuitry as well as a control circuitry with an attached microprocessor and battery. The control circuitry can determine whether a electronic device is on or off simply by sending data through extra wiring and waiting for a response. If there is a response, the power regulating circuitry is enabled - or it is taken offline if there is no response.

The control circuitry is powered by a battery, which is charged during regular power flow. The patent was filed on April 29, 2011 and there is no indication when it could make it into an actual product. The financial benefit is unclear and the cost to build such a PSU may be higher than the actual power savings in the end. However, there is an environmental benefit, especially if all those millions of devices that Apple sells every quarter use less power.

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Top Comments
  • 38 Hide
    dalethepcman , September 13, 2011 4:14 PM
    How is this a zero power PSU?
  • 36 Hide
    The Greater Good , September 13, 2011 4:12 PM
    Apple, the latest and greatest in patent trolls.
  • 24 Hide
    the_krasno , September 13, 2011 4:17 PM
    I accidentally read a Zero Point Module for some reason.
Other Comments
    Display all 94 comments.
  • 36 Hide
    The Greater Good , September 13, 2011 4:12 PM
    Apple, the latest and greatest in patent trolls.
  • 38 Hide
    dalethepcman , September 13, 2011 4:14 PM
    How is this a zero power PSU?
  • 24 Hide
    the_krasno , September 13, 2011 4:17 PM
    I accidentally read a Zero Point Module for some reason.
  • 17 Hide
    bwcbwc , September 13, 2011 4:19 PM
    Good question: Maybe it doesn't allow any power to the plugged in device, but the processor circuitry within the PSU will still be leeching power. Either that or the article doesn't capture what is really going on here.
  • 6 Hide
    Stardude82 , September 13, 2011 4:19 PM
    Sort of makes sense.... when a transformer is plugged into the wall with no load there is still some parasitic use of power. I don't know how they will work the switching system, but its still likely to draw some power too.
  • 15 Hide
    puddleglum , September 13, 2011 4:29 PM
    So Apple gets the PR for being green and everyone else gets slammed for wasting energy. Oh wait, they can't help it because Apple's got the patent.
  • 0 Hide
    rohitbaran , September 13, 2011 4:30 PM
    I don't think this is new. Devices powering off when not in use has been for very long. They may be adding some detection mechanism similar to used in current devices (or maybe the same one lol!) and so they want a patent! Wow!
  • 4 Hide
    TeKEffect , September 13, 2011 4:31 PM
    Its a good idea. It sends a signal to the attached device and if no response is received it prevents a product that is turned off from taking a vampire draw. This should be standard in all electronics not just apples, this patent isnt going to help universal adoption
  • 20 Hide
    coldmast , September 13, 2011 4:32 PM
    This one better be rejected
  • -5 Hide
    nikkidpartypooper , September 13, 2011 4:33 PM
    Yes! Mr.Patent Apple the useles greeny.
  • -8 Hide
    nikkidpartypooper , September 13, 2011 4:34 PM
    Yeah! Mr.Patent Apple the useless greeny and their iSheep followers.
  • 16 Hide
    Anonymous , September 13, 2011 4:35 PM
    So let me get this right, current PSUs use less than ONE WATT of power when the computer is turned off with many using HALF OF ONE WATT or less. Apple just wants their name in the news for something other than lawsuits. Idiots.
  • 6 Hide
    legacy7955 , September 13, 2011 4:39 PM
    More moronia from Apple.

    These iClowns are more focused on getting themselves exposed in the media then they are developing truly better product.

    I can't wait until it all falls apart at Apple, I'm going to really enjoy watching them crash and burn. Then it will be great to see their name splashed all over the news.
  • 16 Hide
    JDFan , September 13, 2011 4:45 PM
    So - they use extra power while the system is running to charge a battery that then allows them to supply the 1W of power that an idle PSU would use from the battery instead of pulling it directly from the outlet ?
  • -5 Hide
    cyprod , September 13, 2011 4:47 PM
    I'll probably get voted down, but meh. Congrats, Apple finally filed a patent that deserves to be granted. Most other power systems continue to draw current from the plug to run the detection circuitry they're talking about. That isn't new, making it battery powered is. And truthfully, some part of me does hope they start bragging about this, because the never of "powered off devices" which don't actually go into a low power state is disgusting. I'm looking at you comcast with your damn decoder boxes (not dvr enabled).

    I will admit that for a properly created device, it won't actually save any power seeing that what's out there now pulls the power straight from the wall, while apples will pull from a battery, and then pull additional power while on to charge said battery, but meh.

    Also, am I the only one that thinks that the extra battery is just another thing to go bad that you'll have to pay apple to replace? Seriously, most devices don't shut off, but go into low power mode so you can turn them on with a remote or similar, if this battery goes bad, you won't be able to turn it on short of a switch on the box. And at that point, you might as well create a zero power PSU by simply putting a hard switch which physically disconnects the PSU from power like a light switch does.
  • -2 Hide
    neon871 , September 13, 2011 4:49 PM
    Zero-Power PSU? That's my idea they stole it.
  • 20 Hide
    xenol , September 13, 2011 4:54 PM
    What's wrong with turning off the switch or unplugging it?
  • 12 Hide
    blurr91 , September 13, 2011 4:54 PM
    I thought Apple tried to power a PSU that doesn't supply power at all, so they get a royalty any time a PSU breaks down...
  • 16 Hide
    enterthesloth1 , September 13, 2011 4:58 PM
    As far as I can tell this will do nothing. The powers supply normally draws power to detect if the computer is on from the wall now it will just get that from a battery that needs to be charged. Is is a cars of robbing paul to pay johnny or whatever there names are. This fact coupled with the fact that batteries are extremely environmentally costly to produce and the fact that the lose power over time make it actually much less green. In addition normally your computer is off at non-peak hours when it is a case of use it or lose it so the wasted power is not a bid deal environmentally but if this battery is charged when it is on (normally peak hours) it will also be worse.
  • 8 Hide
    ngoy , September 13, 2011 5:00 PM
    You know, back in the day, we had an actual On/Off switch.

    Just because you replace the "sensing" mechanism of the psu with a battery that provides power is neither novel or non-obvious in the current state of things. I could just as well have rewired my current psu with a capacitor and a couple other things to make it "zero" power. Oh boy. Using a battery that eventually will wear out is just stupid. Try to find a new clock/config IC for a old Sun box.

    Soon, not only will you have to replace your battery in your iDevice, but also your PSU when your time runs out.
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