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AMD — "We're Not Entirely Honest" About Batteries 154

Slatterz writes "In an apparent attack of the bleeding-obvious, an AMD rep has come clean and admitted (on behalf of the industry) that notebook and phone battery life figures are completely unreliable. AMD's senior vice president Nigel Dessau says that 'we are not being entirely honest with users about what PC battery life they can expect to actually experience.' He says AMD will now use a combination of idle time (where the machine is left to sit idle, and timed to see how long it takes for the battery to go dead), and 3DMark06 to measure battery life. Great in theory but some of the industry already bases battery figures on a two-test measurement, and the results are still wildly inaccurate."
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AMD — "We're Not Entirely Honest" About Batteries

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  • Isn't this simple? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by AlterRNow ( 1215236 ) on Monday March 16, 2009 @11:08AM (#27210465)

    1) Fully load the machine
    2) Time until battery death
    3) Advertise "minimum" battery life

    What is wrong with that? Then I can expect at least 40 minutes of battery life and anything more than that is nice. You will generally not be fully loading the machine so it will always be more than 40 minutes anyway..

  • by Vectronic ( 1221470 ) on Monday March 16, 2009 @11:17AM (#27210621)

    No it won't... not all batteries are exactly the same, no matter how good the quality assurance may be, and same goes for the hardware itself, every transistor, capacitor, resistor, transformer, etc all have varying degrees of quality/conduction/capacity.

    It could even come down to a single resistor that measures the battery output, could be slightly faulty, and turn the PC off sooner.

    They could still say "40 minutes" but it would be more like "32 to 48"... other things come into play as well, such as the temperature/altitude/humidity... how much dust is in/on the heatsinks/vents, or possibly a fault in the charger... the list goes on...

  • Howbout this? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by alta ( 1263 ) on Monday March 16, 2009 @11:21AM (#27210715) Homepage Journal

    I can see more variance in cellphones because those are devices that are on 24 hours on battery and usage patterns are reflective of how many minutes a person has. So someone with 1000 minutes and unlimited sms/data is going to use theirs a lot faster than I, with 550 shared minutes and no data.

    On laptops, I think we can get a little more predictability. First of all, I'd venture to say that at least 80% of the time, if the laptop is on battery, it's being used. I don't know of too many people who fire up a laptop and walk off. However the variance is in the type of use. A photoshopper or developer is going to put a lot more stress on the battery than a Word/IE user. A teen is going to stress it more than a octogenarian. And a gamer is going to beat it down more than anyway. Well, maybe not as someone folding@home.

    I think the solution for this is for someone with enough clout to develop a standard test that cycles through heavy/light load every 20 minutes. Let it run until it powers off. I think this should be a 'measurement company' such as futuremark. HP/Apple/Dell are never going to agree on a test, but if futuremark creats 'wattmark' and it becomes standard, they'll all use it.

    At that point the consumer can say, "Ok, this machine gets 6 hours on wattmark, I'm a LIGHT user, and I usually get 20% more than wattmark" or "I'm a gamer, and I only get half what wattmark says"

    But with the vendors publishing their own magic numbers, and consumer has NO idea what THEY can expect out of that machine/battery.

  • Most folks are not going to tap their machines to run 100% on battery, like the 3dmark tests do, but they sure as hell won't leave it sitting idle. So what is the answer? Simple, what DO most folks do while they are on their laptop? Well, from what I have seen that is web browsing, webmail, IM, and document creation/editing.

    It really shouldn't be hard to simulate those uses. Since you can get an Open Source app to do each of these jobs you could just build a testing suite consisting of FF3,OO.o, and pidgin and run it, having those apps fed some simulated work(a document fo Writer,a few tabs for FF3, and some basic chat for Pidgin) and see how long the batteries last. I don't know about you but I would rather have a number based on "average Joe" usage than the crap numbers they pushed before or the even more pointless numbers they will be pushing now. Then I would have a real rough estimate of what to expect and could shop accordingly.

    Certainly seems like a better way IMHO than some 50/50 split between 3dmark and idle, don't you think?

  • by AlterRNow ( 1215236 ) on Monday March 16, 2009 @11:59AM (#27211399)

    That is a much better and useful idea actually.

    Unfortunately, most metrics seemed to be measured with only one value but I would really like to see a 'battery life curve'.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 16, 2009 @02:20PM (#27214065)

    I don't know what your users are doing to their laptops, but both of the batteries I purchased with my T43 still have ~75% of their original design capacity after nearly 3.5 years of use. The batteries themselves are almost four years old, and one has 500+ cycles and the other has nearly 400. I just swap them out every few months to avoid heavily cycling a particular one.

    So, not all laptop batteries are destined to be useless after a year. IBM apparently got it right.

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