Though improvements have been made in recent years, the usefulness of almost all handhelds could be significantly improved if their battery life could be lengthened. While the screen is a large power drain, the processor also uses a significant amount of power.
National Semiconductor and ARM, the company that designs most of the processors used in handhelds, are going to work together to develop power efficient processors that they say will eventually increase the battery life of handheld devices up to 400%.
Currently, processor vendors and power management IC manufacturers develop their technologies separately. National and ARM intend to change this by developing a system-level approach that intelligently manages performance and power consumption.
ARM’s Intelligent Energy Manager uses algorithms to balance processor workload and energy consumption, while maximizing system responsiveness. It works with the operating system and applications to constantly adjust the required CPU performance level. National’s PowerWise on-chip macrocell then sets the minimum required power supply delivered by the external power management chip.
National and ARM are also working with other partners to develop compatible OS support, design tools, and other necessary technologies. The joint solution will sample to key customers in the second quarter of 2003. Customers will be able to license the PowerWise synthesizable core directly from ARM and the external power supply chips from National.