Intel looks outside the processor for further power savings

San Francisco (CA) - Intel will be extending its efforts to reduce the power consumption PCs beyond the processor, chief technology officer Justin Rattner said. Speaking at the developer conference of the company he said that currently, a processor is responsible for about 48% of the power within a platform. When Woodcrest will be introduced, the processor will consume only one third of the total power - other platform components such as chipsets will swallow the remianing two thirds.

According to Rattner, the platform offers an opportunity to reduce overall power consumption in a computer system. For example, he mentioned that operating system "ticks" are waking up idle systems more often then necessary in today's systems. Down the road, variable "OS ticks" will be only waking up a system when absolutely necessary.

He demonstrated the technology in a UMPC platform, where overall power consumption was dropped from 6.5 watts to 3.5 watts. A dedicated "display memory" module - whose sole responsibility is to refresh the screen - allowed Rattner to completely shut down the motherboard: Fed by the contents of the display memory, which appeared to be a NAND Flash module, the UMPC's power hunger fell to just 1 watt in this stage.

Both technologies "offer great potential," Ratter said. However, he did not indicate when the technologies may be commercially available.