IBM, MontaVista Extend Battery Life

Combination of PowerPC chip and MontaVista software reduces processor power consumption in mobile devices by up to 50 percent.

Mobile device users can reduce processor power consumption in their products by as much as 50 percent by using a combination of chip technology from IBM and software from MontaVista Software Inc., the two companies said Tuesday.

The result could be significant overall power savings—about 20 percent—in overall power savings in such products as smart phones and personal digital assistants, as well as extended battery life and lower costs for the devices, according to the companies.

"As people start to do their media-centric applications on battery-powered devices, you usually chew up the battery life pretty quickly," said Michael McGinnis, strategic marketing manager for IBM.

But by combining IBMs upcoming PowerPC 405LP chip with MontaVistas Linux Consumer Electronics Edition software, battery life can be extended, said McGinnis, in Burlington, Vt.

The software works as a monitor within the device to find ways to save power while applications are being run. For example, the software can fluctuate the power being used in between frames of an MPEG4 video clip to reduce power consumption by as much as 20 percent, he said.

"Most apps have some inevitable downtime," McGinnis said. "We want to manage that downtime."

The PowerPC 405LP enables the application to continue running while voltage and frequency are being adjusted. Most other chips have to shut down the chip to change the voltage, leading to latency in the applications, he said.

The two companies have been working together for more than three years to design ways of reducing power consumption and extending battery life in mobile devices, McGinnis said.

The PowerPC 405LP will be generally available in the third quarter of this year. MontaVistas Linux CEE will be available later in the first half.