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Asus Promises 12-Hour Battery Life In New High-End Laptop 190

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the or-until-the-battery-catches-fire dept.
Asus' new high-end laptop could finally be the traveler's best accoutrement, touting twelve-hour battery life thanks to intelligent, second-by-second switching between the two GPUs and automatic, on-the-fly re-clocking of the Intel Core i7 CPU. All this also comes in with a price tag of just over $1,000. "ASUS's solution is different because it's user-transparent; even a novice user will get the fullest possible benefit because the laptop itself is deciding when to switch. The same principle applies to the dynamic CPU clocking. ASUS includes a desktop widget to track CPU clock speed. While using the UL80JT, I could see it moving up and down with what I did; up with program openings and CPU-intensive processes, and way down at idle. Between the GPU switching, dynamic clocking, and ASUS's other power management features, the UL80JT manages to consume less than half as much power as the unibody Macbook while browsing."
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Asus Promises 12-Hour Battery Life In New High-End Laptop

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  • by Zordak (123132) on Monday January 11, 2010 @04:46PM (#30728332) Homepage Journal
    "Dynamic clocking" my foot! I won't buy it unless it has a big, red "Turbo" button.
    • I suddenly want to dig out my old 286.

      In all seriousness, with dynamic clocking, why use 2 GPUs and switch between the two? Why not just under-clock and under-volt the primary GPU when you're not gaming?

      Doesn't the second GPU just add cost?

      • by robot256 (1635039) on Monday January 11, 2010 @06:11PM (#30729760)

        My Thinkpad T400 has two GPUs. One is an Intel GMA4500, the other is an ATI Mobility Radeon HD 3400. Running with the Intel GPU cuts off a full third of my power consumption because it uses the main CPU and main memory instead of dedicated chips. But switching between the two GPUs is iffy at best and usually requires a reboot. If I get stuck on the Intel GPU then I can't play games until I reboot and switch to the ATI GPU, so I usually stay on the ATI unless I really need battery life.

        What is significant about what ASUS is doing is the PC will *automagically* switch to the high-performance GPU when you start up a game or a flash video, then switch back when you go back to word processing. This is something that has never been done before and is a major step towards making "switchable graphics" truly useful.

        That is, of course, assuming that the ASUS power management app doesn't crash all the time leaving your system in an unstable state.

        • by icegreentea (974342) on Monday January 11, 2010 @06:18PM (#30729874)
          I have a T400 as well, but I can usually (like 98% of the time) switch between cards without a reboot. Are you sure you got the right drivers and stuff? I think if you remove all of the default Lenovo software, you end up with some problems. You need to keep the Lenovo battery/power management software (sweet! two battery gauges).
        • by ceoyoyo (59147)

          Yes. If it works it's great. Wasn't it Dell that screwed up their CPU throttling a while ago, and a bunch of people ended up with laptops that decided to run at 2 MHz whenever you actually asked them to do something?

        • While the availability of seamless switching between the two subsystems would be very convenient, I think that the original question that Enderandrew asked is still valid: Why not just lean on the one heavier GPU exclusively, and re-clock *that* GPU in the same manner that the CPU is re-clocked, on-the-fly?
          I think that the answer is that the current GPUs *can't* be re-clocked as easily, or as flexibly, as the new i7 CPUs are designed to be. Because if they were, it would seem that re-clocking should involv
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        One of the GPUs is, almost definitely, whatever GPU was integrated into the chipset. It'll be weak as hell; but use minimal power and be virtually free in terms of board space and bill of materials.

        The second GPU will be whatever they picked for when actual performance is needed. It will add cost, space, and heat; but there is really no alternative if you want to have actual power available. Odds are, it uses more power in its lowest stable voltage/clock state than the integrated GPU does at full power.
    • by Jeng (926980)

      How about a Red Button of Death.

      If you hit the red button on this video card while its on it will corrupt the video cards bios. Luckily its got two.

      http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814127306 [newegg.com]

    • by selven (1556643)

      My CPU goes up to eleven.

  • Looks nice. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Hazelfield (1557317) on Monday January 11, 2010 @04:47PM (#30728342)
    Why hasn't anyone come up with this before? Or if they have, where are the others?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Guspaz (556486)

      The truth is that every mobile Intel CPU since at least the Pentium M has featured SpeedStep, with OS support dating back to WinXP (although widgets could enable support on Win2K). Back then, SpeedStep would dynamically clock the CPU between 1GHz and 1.6GHz based on CPU load. The voltage would also change accordingly. These days, all their products support it, even desktop and server processors. What Asus might be doing is underclocking further to try to eke out additional savings. That's not really terribl

      • by immel (699491)
        You forgot 6) Typical exaggerated tech promises.

        Come on, when was the last time you saw a battery life claim that wasn't slightly exaggerated, wasn't done under absolutely ideal (or even unrealistic) lab conditions, or otherwise didn't hold up under your own measurements?

        Unfortunately, few if any manufacturers explain battery life testing methods, so it's impossible to compare between vendors. Still, I might be in the market for a similarly spec'd machine with good battery life by the time this comes o
  • by starbugs (1670420) on Monday January 11, 2010 @04:51PM (#30728410)

    Promising 12 battery life is one thing.
    Actually delivering acpi that is not crap is another.

    I guess we'll wait and see.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by BikeHelmet (1437881)

      I wish they would list battery life under "Heavy Use".

      I remember reading a Netbook review where it pointed out how bogus the 10 hour claims are. Can't find the exact one, but this one [anandtech.com] is similar.

      10 hours? No. 6 hours if you're doing something. Listening to an MP3 while you work in Office and browse the web? That's CPU, speakers, Wifi, possibly Flash(GPU/CPU), and the HDD. 6 hours is expected under fairly normal use for anyone that visits slashdot.

      And yet devices like the Pandora handheld [open-pandora.org] make real heavy use

      • by rve (4436) on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @02:40AM (#30733994)

        I wish they would list battery life under "Heavy Use".

        I remember reading a Netbook review where it pointed out how bogus the 10 hour claims are.

        This is a pet peeve of mine. Claims of battery life have been steadily improving over the years, but in real life, in a laptop that's more than a few weeks old, the 'battery low' warning appears within an hour, 90 minutes maybe. According to the specs, the battery should last an entire trans-atlantic flight, but in reality it's low before you reach the airport. I've been disappointed so many times that I've given up on laptops altogether.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by derGoldstein (1494129)
      This may be anecdotal, but Asus have delivered on most of their battery-life claims consistently so far. Most reviews of their laptops, especially the netbooks, have shown that they don't exaggerate their operation time to any significant extent. Personally I have an Eee-1005HA and I don't think I can think of a reasonable usage scenario in which it would last for less than 7 hours. If I keep the CPU at forced maximum, and have it do video playback for the entire time, it still gets over 6 hours. If I keep
  • Vendor promises (Score:5, Interesting)

    by morgan_greywolf (835522) on Monday January 11, 2010 @04:51PM (#30728412) Homepage Journal

    Vendors promise all sorts of things. That doesn't make them true. I'll believe it when I see Tom's Hardware or someone equally competent test one of these things and they actually get 12 hours.

    Until then, I'll file this one under "vendors promise the world".

    • Re:Vendor promises (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Colonel Korn (1258968) on Monday January 11, 2010 @05:11PM (#30728788)

      Vendors promise all sorts of things. That doesn't make them true. I'll believe it when I see Tom's Hardware or someone equally competent test one of these things and they actually get 12 hours.

      Until then, I'll file this one under "vendors promise the world".

      If you want competency, you might check with Anand instead of Tom. My 1005HA EEEPC has more battery life than Asus claimed (I get 11 hours just typing in notepad with the radio off), so I wouldn't be surprised if the 12 hour claim were true. Keep in mind that the quoted number is always for minimal usage.

      • Keep in mind that the quoted number is always for minimal usage.

        This always annoys me.

        I guess it's good to know how long the battery will last if I do basically nothing... But how long will it last if I'm actually using the wireless to surf the web? Or if I'm playing a game? Or watching a video?

        Obviously it'll be less than what's advertised on the box... But how much less?

        Of course I can figure this out for myself fairly easily just by trying it out and timing how long the battery lasts. But that doesn't help me much when I'm trying to make a purchasing decision.

        It

        • by T-Bone-T (1048702)

          It is easy to come up with the minimum number. Sometimes what people consider pushing a computer are very different. The other day, I was ripping 2 DVDs and encoding a disk image for my phone. That was definitely pushing my old computer. Even if you measure it with web browsing you run into issues. Do you let it run all the ads or do you block them like many will?

      • I get 11 hours just typing in notepad with the radio off

        How did you discover that? Most people I know replace notepad with something else long before 11 hours.

      • by mgblst (80109)

        I find it a bit hard to believe that you are using a laptop with notepad for 11 hours? Is this some new form of torture.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by at_slashdot (674436)

      This reminds me of my iPhone and Apple bullshit that the battery has a standby of 300 hours (12.5 days)... 300 hours my ass... more like 30.

      • by Firehed (942385)

        If you don't use the thing at all, have WiFi, bluetooth, email checking, and push notifications disabled, and have solid reception, those numbers are realistic. But if you're actually treating it as a smartphone, that drops like a rock (which to be fair is true of all smartphones).

        My iPhone is definitely a "charge every night" device. While I don't actually talk on the phone much, the battery has everything except screen brightness going against it (I keep all of my devices at low brightness, partly to sav

        • Know what you mean, but I have bluetooth off all the time and I tried to Wifi off, I might get an additional half-day of standby. I still think it's a lie, maybe only if the G3 signal would be so strong that the phone would charge from it :D otherwise I find those 300 hours a fairytale.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by PopeRatzo (965947) *

        This reminds me of my iPhone and Apple bullshit that the battery has a standby of 300 hours (12.5 days)... 300 hours my ass... more like 30.

        So I guess we should expect to see a "news" article on how bad the Google Nexus' battery standby time is in about 30 minutes.

        I actually read one of these Appleturfed articles today about how several "independent technology consultants" say that buying an unlocked phone is a terrible idea because you lose the "protection" that a tied-in service contract offers.

        I'm not ki

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by at_slashdot (674436)

          What "protection"? Unlocked phones should be mandated by law like in EU (or at least some countries of EU).

        • by lobotomy (26260)
          "Protection" in the same way that the Mafia offers "protection". You do want it, don't you? Do you know what happened to the last guy who refused it?
    • by PopeRatzo (965947) *

      Until then, I'll file this one under "vendors promise the world".

      I think they're only going to get so much battery time by playing games with "dynamic" processing power and other types of power management.

      I don't think we're going to see really useful battery life times until there are some more advances in battery technology.

  • by marcansoft (727665) <hector @ m a r c a n s o f t.com> on Monday January 11, 2010 @04:52PM (#30728434) Homepage

    This thing is as old as my beat up Pentium III Inspiron 5000. Varying GPU clocks is also old.

    What is interesting is seamless switching between GPUs. Everything else is just marketingese for "we do what everyone else does and we actually bothered to put some extra effort into power optimization".

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by btcoal (1693074)

      This thing is as old as my beat up Pentium III Inspiron 5000. Varying GPU clocks is also old.

      What is interesting is seamless switching between GPUs. Everything else is just marketingese for "we do what everyone else does and we actually bothered to put some extra effort into power optimization".

      But enabling non-expert users to look under the hood and moderate behavior accordingly is new. Healthy skepticism aside, Asus has built up mad street cred recently and deserves the BOTD to some degree.

      • But I fail to see how this is different from any mobile CPU + ondemand governor + CPU Frequency Scaling Applet on Gnome Panel.
        Perhaps from Windows point of view this is novel, but I see nothing groundbreaking here.

        My FSC Amilo Pi 2515 has a "Fan" button which lowers CPU frequencies to minimum and increases fan temperature threshold. So the notebook goes silent and powersaving, so it is a Turbo button in reverse.

        • Nah, you can set minimum and maximum clock speeds in Windows without difficulty, and third party apps like RMClock give you a lot of fine control including undervolting. This is really nothing new except for dynamic GPU switching.
      • by PopeRatzo (965947) *

        But enabling non-expert users to look under the hood and moderate behavior accordingly is new.

        The idea is not new. The decade-old OS that I'm using right now has a feature that lets me choose whether to power down components due to inactivity.

        Power management has been around a while. This may be a little more detailed than previous systems, but we'll just have to wait until we actually get our hands on the product before we'll know how well it works.

        I just have doubts as to how much more battery time we'r

    • by m85476585 (884822)
      The latest processors have greatly improved power management features. My Pentium 4 3GHz used something like 20 watts idle according to my motherboard's power meter utility. My new Core 2 Quad (9550) uses about 6-9 watts idle, and it's overclocked to 3.4GHz. A lot of the improvement in these laptops may come from Intel, since there's only so much Asus can do.
    • by Jeng (926980)

      I'm not sure how old my motherboard is but seamlessly switching between GPU's isn't even that new.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ATI_Hybrid_Graphics [wikipedia.org]

  • I know netbooks have really pushed the low-end prices downwards, but is slight over a grand really considered "high-end" these days?

    • by TheKidWho (705796)

      Apparently. Unless you want a real unobtanium notebook that costs $3grand, but that's usually due to the price of a $1000 i7 extreme edition cpu and $600+ Solid State Drive.

      You can get a high end laptop for about $1200-1400 these days which is quite impressive. My mid range gaming laptop cost me $1650 2 years ago, now you could get a laptop with a gpu 3x faster for $500 cheaper.

    • by cptnapalm (120276)

      I bought a Lenovo laptop a few weeks ago with an i7, Nvidia 240M, 4 GB of RAM and a 500 GB hard drive for $999. If that isn't high end, I'm not sure what would qualify.

      • by TheKidWho (705796)

        You're missing an i7 920XM, a GTX280M, 8gb of RAM, a 256gb SSD, etc. :P

        Intel is a little confusing in that they call dual cores and quad cores i7s.

        • by cptnapalm (120276)

          But that is an ubermachine, not just high end.

          My i7 is a quad core; shows up on Ubuntu as an 8 core system due to the hyperthreading.

  • User-transparent (Score:3, Insightful)

    by TheMeuge (645043) on Monday January 11, 2010 @04:55PM (#30728496)

    ASUS's solution is different because it's user-transparent; even a novice user will get the fullest possible benefit because the laptop itself is deciding when to switch. The same principle applies to the dynamic CPU clocking.

    So what they mean is that the laptop will be deciding when it should be fast or slow, with no input from the user? How's this different than the gazillion power management settings we have now (except switching between GPUs of course)?

    I am also not sure I like the sentiment of "user-independent" is somehow more beneficial to the user. It sounds too much like the drivel from the RIAA/MPAA: "we will enhance customer value by increasing the price and decreasing what they can do with it."

    • by Arimus (198136)

      Its not meant for us ;) Think of the typical person who knows NOTHING about computers or the differences between the GeForce and Intel graphics... they're not going to make the best choice as to which card should be active. On the other hand as the computer knows what its trying to do it can.

    • So what they mean is that the laptop will be deciding when it should be fast or slow, with no input from the user? How's this different than the gazillion power management settings we have now (except switching between GPUs of course)?

      I am also not sure I like the sentiment of "user-independent" is somehow more beneficial to the user. It sounds too much like the drivel from the RIAA/MPAA: "we will enhance customer value by increasing the price and decreasing what they can do with it."

      If you know enough to dig into the power settings and get everything set up just right for your own usage patterns, then this laptop is not aimed at you.

      This laptop is aimed at users who don't know enough to configure their own power options. The whole point is that the laptop's hardware will make decent guesses as to the necessary power settings and switch as necessary - hopefully getting you performance when you need it, while still saving power when you don't.

      Which can be accomplished right now, if you

  • by Alain Williams (2972) <addw@phcomp.co.uk> on Monday January 11, 2010 @04:59PM (#30728570) Homepage
    If they can do 12 hours on a laptop that, presumably, has a fast CPU & stuff - how long could they go on a laptop with a modest CPU ?

    These guys always seem to want to show speed and power in a laptop -- but what I need in a laptop is long battery life. How much CPU does it take to do a bit of web browsing, run up emacs & ssh. I have a PC at home or stuff that I ssh to if I need to do fast compiles or run databases & other heavy stuff. These guys just don't get it, I thought they had when they brought out the original eeepc -- but subsequent models have just turned to bloat (OK: I do like the larger screens, but that is all).

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by TheKidWho (705796)

      The best you will get is about 14 hours on an atom pinetrail based eee pc 1005PE currently.

      • by Firehed (942385)

        Any chance of getting something like that in a 12-13" casing? I find the netbook keyboards completely unusable, and I have pretty small hands. Take the space that would normally hold a dvd burner and pack in twice as much battery. Better battery life benefits users all the time; how often do you find yourself using optical media these days (or, do you find the lack of a dvd drive in netbooks to be problematic)?

        • by TheKidWho (705796)

          Alienware is releasing an M11x notebook, 11.6" screen with one of the new Arrandale processors and Nvidia GT335M along with 6.5 hours of battery life.

    • by Kjella (173770)

      If they can do 12 hours on a laptop that, presumably, has a fast CPU & stuff - how long could they go on a laptop with a modest CPU ?

      In practice it depends on how big a battery is reasonable to carry around, it scales very linearly with that. The question is, does anyone regularly need a 30h laptop? Or is there those that need a day's charge (for the hours they use it, not necessarily wall time) and those who are really off the grid for weeks and need a different solution anyway? I would tend to think so, there's not many today who has a "base" without electricity. Maybe there's a weekend market, but if you're spending the entire weekend

  • by jasonwc (939262) on Monday January 11, 2010 @05:00PM (#30728580)

    I have an Asus U80 laptop ($650) with a stated battery life of 7 hours (without Wifi). I've gotten 6 hours with Wifi and 8 hours without. Even with fairly heavy web browsing and CPU usage, I can get 4-5 hours in Battery mode. Thus, while many battery life claims are bullshit, I am inclined to believe Asus. Note that Asus uses some proprietary Windows software to reduce power usage. Without the software, the battery lasted 33-50% less.

    As an aside, they also have excellent RMA service. I discovered that my laptop drive had several bad sectors. I called Asus, and after less than a 5 minute wait was talking to a human being. I explained that a low-level drive scan showed several bad sectors on the drive, and that this indicated a hardware rather than software problem. Rather than having me reinstall Windows, or some other bs, I was told I could return the laptop or the bare drive for service with a 2-3 day turnaround. I shipped the bare drive, and received a replacement 2 business days after they received the RMA drive. Not bad.

    • by tool462 (677306)

      Agreed. I've posted this in another /. thread, but on my Asus netbook, I get 6.5 hours consistently while using the thing at full tilt. Brightness all the way up, wifi on, compiling code, etc, etc. One review I read claimed 11 hours, but I haven't gotten that personally.

      • by jasonwc (939262)

        Stated battery life is based on average to low brightness, disabled Wifi/Bluetooth, and low CPU usage in Battery Mode which caps CPU usage at 60% of the maximum, and places most devices in power saving modes.

        So, if you're using your laptop at full brightness, with Wifi on, and compiling code at the full CPU frequency, it's easy to believe you would be getting much lower battery life.

        It's great to see you get such battery life with that activity, however. I see lots of laptops that can barely manage 2-3 hour

  • Promises, promises (Score:4, Insightful)

    by elrous0 (869638) * on Monday January 11, 2010 @05:00PM (#30728582)
    Yeah, and we'll have a man on Mars in 2035, Obama will change Washington, and Duke Nuke'em Forever will be out any day now.
  • Saving power by way of second by second switching? I know it doesn't really apply, but Maxwell's Demon [wikipedia.org] comes to mind.
  • Bloatware? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by meustrus (1588597) <meustrus.gmail@com> on Monday January 11, 2010 @05:19PM (#30728910)

    Looks to me like the software to accomplish this is one of those programs the manufacturer bundles on your computer, not an architectural change. If I have to tolerate a 6 month trial of MS Office, Norton Antivirus, several dozen casual games distributed as adware, and whatever other "productivity" software they decide I want, then no thanks. Bundled software should be possible to separate from each other.

    Another important question: will it run Linux?

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by jasonwc (939262)

      My Asus U80A laptop uses the "Asus Power4gear Hybrid" windows software to maximize battery life. It allows you to cap the maximum CPU frequency, set Wifi and other devices to a low-power mode, and disable Windows features such as Aero. Battery life can be increased 33-50% from Windows "Battery" modes simply by using the software's default setting which uses a low-power mode for Wifi and caps CPU frequency at 60% of the maximum.

      Thus, I imagine this will not work on Linux. However, this isn't unusual. I've g

  • Can't long endurance laptops be easily built by designing in a larger capacity battery?
    How large a proportion of the laptop's cost is the battery?
    Surely if there is a big demand for battery life the manufacturers can just make a thicker, heavier version of a current laptop for a hundred bucks more?

  • So, they have basically redefined ondemand governor and build Windows variant for CPU Frequency Applet I used to use in GNOME?

  • by Chirs (87576) on Monday January 11, 2010 @05:45PM (#30729342)

    There's a review at:

    http://www.silentpcreview.com/asus-ul80vt [silentpcreview.com]

    They got a runtime of 9hrs 11min while web browsing, but it was running faster than expected so they thought that 10 hrs wasn't out of the realm of possibility.

    • by evol262 (721773)
      That's for the (older) UL80VT rather than the UL80JT. The VT uses Core2 ULV, a GeForce 210, the switchable graphics have a noticeable delay (like Thinkpad T400s), etc. This is presumably a newer version.
  • 12 hours then means 3 hours. Yay.

    My laptop now is my mobile phone. It’s enough to watch movies with headphones in the bed, on the toilet or outside. And if I want more, I always have my full home cinema, server and workstation at home.

    • by BlindSpot (512363)

      My laptop now is my mobile phone. It's enough to watch movies with headphones in the bed, on the toilet or outside. And if I want more, I always have my full home cinema, server and workstation at home.

      Wow, I've never seen anyone who takes their porn so seriously.

      Even outside, you say? Glad I'm not your neighbour...

    • by Shados (741919)

      To be fair, some companies actually give real numbers on this. An example is the (admitedly extremely overpriced) Nokia Booklet 3G. They claim 12 hour battery life...and ok, if I'm connected to a high speed wifi watching HD movies on youtube non-stop, or playing "netbook-level" games on Steam, i get 9-10, but aside that (typical netbook usage, like listening to music, word processing, checking emails, browsing, etc), 12 is actually an accurate number.

      Maybe Asus is honest on this one. Maybe.

  • A company can promise lots of things. Most companies hope that people forget those promises. The real question is whether they'll follow through or not.

    • by ceoyoyo (59147)

      Sure, but if you were writing a press release would you refer to your product as "middle of the pack," "bog standard," or "high-end?"

      Divide their battery life specs by the same factor.

  • by roc97007 (608802)

    I want 12 hour battery life in a low end laptop. Free phones will last 8 days on a single charge. I want my laptop to run for days, and I don't care if it doesn't have enough grunt to play Halo 3.

  • After all, their promises on the battery life of previous models have been so conservative!

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