Microsoft Planning 7-Day Phone Batteries

Software profiling and offloading computational processes can help devices last up to a week between charges – say hello to the software-defined battery.

Mitch Wagner, Executive Editor, Light Reading

June 10, 2014

2 Min Read
Microsoft Planning 7-Day Phone Batteries

SAN FRANCISCO -- MIT Technology Review Digital Summit -- Microsoft is figuring out how to make mobile phone batteries last longer. How much longer? Try a week...

Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT)'s Research team is looking into several techniques for extending battery life, said senior researcher Ranveer Chandra here at the MIT summit. First, Microsoft is looking to enable developers to find out which components of their mobile apps use the most power, and tune the code to be more efficient. These profiling tools are built into Microsoft's Visual Studio 2013 application development software.

Phones can also extend battery life by offloading compute functions to routers and the cloud, Chandra said.

Further out, phones will use a technique Microsoft calls "Somniloquy" -- which means talking in your sleep -- to allow power-hungry cores to intelligently offload computations onto less power-intensive cores, while the power-hungry cores go to sleep.

And even further out, Microsoft wants to replace existing phone batteries with multiple batteries with different properties for different conditions, Chandra said.

Phone batteries are now individual reservoirs of power optimized for average environmental conditions and current requirements. But battery life depends on the type of computing being done, the chemical properties of the battery, and environmental conditions such as temperature. Future phones will have multiple small batteries with different chemical properties that function well under different conditions, and the operating system will intelligently shift between batteries to prolong battery life.

Chandra compared the technique of managing multiple batteries with different properties to SDN -- he called it "software-defined batteries."

Battery life has been a bottleneck for phone usage. While phones get exponentially smarter, more powerful, and cheaper, batteries have only twice as much capacity as they did 15 years ago, Chandra said.

Ideas from the battery project have already made it into Microsoft products. In addition to the Visual Basic tool, Windows 8's WiFi software uses the energy saving techniques.

I'd like to say more about this, but I need to go plug in my phone.

— Mitch Wagner, Circle me on Google+ Follow me on TwitterVisit my LinkedIn profileFollow me on Facebook, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading. Got a tip about SDN or NFV? Send it to [email protected].

About the Author(s)

Mitch Wagner

Executive Editor, Light Reading

San Diego-based Mitch Wagner is many things. As well as being "our guy" on the West Coast (of the US, not Scotland, or anywhere else with indifferent meteorological conditions), he's a husband (to his wife), dissatisfied Democrat, American (so he could be President some day), nonobservant Jew, and science fiction fan. Not necessarily in that order.

He's also one half of a special duo, along with Minnie, who is the co-habitor of the West Coast Bureau and Light Reading's primary chewer of sticks, though she is not the only one on the team who regularly munches on bark.

Wagner, whose previous positions include Editor-in-Chief at Internet Evolution and Executive Editor at InformationWeek, will be responsible for tracking and reporting on developments in Silicon Valley and other US West Coast hotspots of communications technology innovation.

Beats: Software-defined networking (SDN), network functions virtualization (NFV), IP networking, and colored foods (such as 'green rice').

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