Microsoft detailed its battery life and power consumption work with Windows 8 on Tuesday.
The software giant has been focusing heavily on battery life with Windows 8. “Battery life and power consumption continue to be some of the most important topics in the computing industry,” admitted Microsoft’s Pat Stermen in a blog post on Tuesday. Microsoft outlined three goals of Windows 8 power management:
- Let the hardware shine. We built Windows 8 such that the power efficiency of the hardware platform shines through, regardless of whether the system is a SoC-based Windows tablet or an SLI-equipped gaming PC. We designed our power management interfaces in a consistent, standardized way across all platforms. This allows our hardware partners and application developers to focus on their unique innovations and experiences instead of the differences in platform hardware and power management.
- Continue to deliver great battery life. Windows 7 delivered a significant reduction in power consumption and increase in energy efficiency, particularly mobile PC battery life. (In fact, you can read how we thought about it in this e7 blog post.) In Windows 8, we want to maintain that same level of efficiency on existing PCs even as we re-imagine the rest of Windows.
- Enable the smartphone power model. One of the coolest things about the System-on-Chip (SoC) platforms you’ve seen us talk about at CES and //BUILD/ is their capability to quickly enter very low-power idle states. We want to leverage that ultra-low idle power to bring the constant connectivity and instant-on features of the smartphone power model to capable Windows 8 PCs.
Microsoft wants to be energy efficient with Windows 8 and to improve mobile battery life. “The thing that excites us the most is how power management is fundamental to all aspects of PC platform design,” says Stermen. “Power management directly impacts attributes including thickness, weight, acoustics (fans and their speed), skin temperature, cost, screen size, resolution, RAM quantity, etc. Hardware that is thin, light, always connected, and runs all day on battery is cool.”
Microsoft believes power is a critical system resource in a modern day PC. The software maker has three key Windows 8 innovations that help the system manage power consumption. The Metro style application model is designed from the ground up to be power-friendly. “Applications in the background are suspended such that they do not consume resources and power when not in use,” explains Stermen. The underlying aspects of the WinRT support behind the Metro style apps will allow developers to use background tasks without impacting battery life.
The second aspect of Microsoft’s Windows 8 power work is idle hygiene. Microsoft’s improvements are focused on idle activity on a system. “Most PC platforms feature processor and chipset idle states that allow the hardware platform to stop the clock or completely turn off power to parts of the silicon when they are unused,” explains Stermen. Microsoft has improved its idle duration by 35% from Windows 7 to longer than 100ms in Windows 8. The durations are important as devices that keep going in and out of an idle state will use battery life during the state transitions.
The final part of Microsoft’s Windows 8 power improvements involves runtime device power management. “PCs attain their longest battery life when all devices, including the processor, storage, and peripheral devices enter low-power modes,” explains Stermen. The feature allows Microsoft’s operating system to determine how a device uses its power management features. Windows 8 has a new device power framework that allows devices to advertise their power management features. This allows Windows 8 to handle power in a better way without OEMs having to add in custom software to manage hardware specific power features.
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