Let’s face it, battery technology isn’t experiencing any miracles in advancement. For years the PC industry has focused on gradually improving time away from the wall by cleverly stuffing larger batteries into our laptops, doubling down on power management tools and focusing on CPU and GPU efficiency. It’s fair to say Intel has worked diligently to gradually improve CPU efficiency, so now its tackling enemy #1 of battery drain: the display.
During a keynote at Computex in Taipei, CEO Gregory Bryant announced Intel Low Power Display Technology, a potentially radical new approach to laptop displays that was co-developed with Sharp and Innolux. How radical? It’s a one-watt LCD panel that could add up to 8 hours of battery life to an ultrabook or 2-in-1 laptop.
To prove its point, Intel brought my new favorite laptop — a Dell XPS 13 — onstage that was outfitted with the new display tech and showed that it could loop video for 25 hours. The existing XPS 13 is capable of “only” 15 hours of video playback under the very best circumstances using Intel’s Core-i7 8550U and a 60 wH battery.
That’s looping video. It’s technically possible that under lighter workloads (browsing, email, etc) the time away from the wall could exceed 25 hours.
Note that it’s unclear whether Intel retrofitted an existing XPS 13 with the 1W panel, or if this is a prototype. At any rate, users obviously won’t be able to magically add this battery life-boosting technology to their existing systems. Laptop vendors will need to incorporate it into future designs, and of course the components inside will need to feature an Intel processor.
Crucially, Intel claims that users won’t be able to distinguish any differences in brightness or resolution using Low Power Displays. Obviously claims like these and the 25-hour battery life demonstration will need to be put under a microscope using real-world scenarios, but there’s no denying that a 1W display could do wonders for laptops, especially those already boasting efficient components and slimmer designs.
As is the case at events like these, details were sparse. We’ll have to wait and see what announcements follow, and if Intel’s new display tech will have any impact on the price of future laptops. In any case, I’m excited about it.
Now if only we could just build a better battery!