Super-capacitor batteries to shrink weight of laptops

Intel claims a new type of “super-capacitor” battery could help make laptops lighter.

Super-capacitor batteries to shrink weight of laptops

Speaking at Intel’s European Research conference here in Brussels, company vice president Dr Wen-Hann Wang said current laptop batteries were larger they need be because they are required to retain enough wattage for the most demanding applications (such as 3D rendering), even though only a fraction of that power draw was required for most tasks.

Instead, Intel is proposing to introduce so-called super-capacitor batteries that consistently deliver a relatively low power of, say, 10 watts. When the laptop requires less energy, the battery continues to deliver 10 watts but puts this excess power into reserve for the times when the PC is performing more demanding tasks.

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“This technology opens a lot of possibilities,” said Dr Wang. “You can either have a smaller battery or a better [longer lasting] battery.”

Low Power ProxZzzy

Intel is also working on a second power-saving technology, called Low Power ProxZzzy. This aims to reduce the amount of time computers spend idling, waiting for internet traffic to arrive.

Instead of leaving the PC idle, a small piece of circuitry running on the ProxZzzy protocol is integrated into the PC’s network interface card (NIC). The circuit decides whether internet traffic is important enough to bother waking the PC, buffering non-critical data until the PC finally needs to be powered up. “This little guy can do a lot of work without waking the big guy,” was how Dr Wang characterised it.

Wang said Low Power ProxZzzy could generate enormous power savings, given that the average PC idles at 22 watts, compared to the 0.8 watts required to keep the small piece of NIC circuitry ticking over.

The technology could find its way into both PCs and servers, reducing annual electricity bills by as much as $6 billion globally, according to Intel.

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