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Intel tries to extend life

Intel pushes for longer-lasting laptops

Intel is to try and get PC component makers to reduce power consumption in order to reverse the increasing demands on laptop battery life.

Scheduled to begin later this year, Intel's ambitious program will be a major step towards realising the company's vision of a full-size notebook computer that can run all day on a single battery charge.

The program, still under wraps at Intel, will create power consumption guidelines for the makers of monitors, fans, drives and other laptop components. It will also establish a budget for power consumption in all future Intel-based laptops, according to an Intel source who at one point referred to the program as 'Here-um'.

Intel is very tight-lipped about the the project at the moment, but notebook power-consumption problems are very real. "Power requirements [of laptops] have increased 10 percent over just the last few years," the Intel source said.

Several major PC makers have tried to make low power chips work, but have failed. Compaq gave up on Transmeta's Crusoe chip, as did IBM.

But Intel may be trying to punch above its weight. "I think you could give manufacturers a certain [power budget] envelope to work within, but I don't think Intel could say, 'You have to do this'," said Stacey Wu, an analyst at research firm Mobile Insights.

Wu warned there's no such thing a free lunch in the trade off between power processing and power consumption.

"Power consumption is out of control," Wu said. "Based on today's technology, there will have to be a sacrifice in performance if you really want low power."

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