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Power Microsoft Software Upgrades

Software Defined Smart Battery Arrays Extend Laptop Life 42

An anonymous reader writes: A Microsoft research paper, titled 'Software Defined Batteries', outlines a radical charging alternative which uses a smart battery system to keep consumer-grade gadgets going for much longer than the current norm, by monitoring user habits. Making use of existing technologies, the engineers place multiple battery control under the duties of the operating system to create a software-defined approach optimized for different scenarios, such as word processing, email or video streaming.
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Software Defined Smart Battery Arrays Extend Laptop Life

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    The batteries are not software defined, their usage is. Get it straight. I understand that its very 21st century to make things "Software Defined", but they just aren't.

    How is this different than dropping clockspeed, or dimming the screen?

    Hint: not all computing activities require the same amount of power.

    • The batteries are not software defined, their usage is. Get it straight. I understand that its very 21st century to make things "Software Defined", but they just aren't.

      How is this different than dropping clockspeed, or dimming the screen?

      Hint: not all computing activities require the same amount of power.

      It's different in that they propose multiple batteries, each optimized for different usage scenarios. The software decides which battery is active based on user activity. I would imagine this would be combined with today's standard lowering clock speed, etc.

      • The batteries are not software defined, their usage is. Get it straight. I understand that its very 21st century to make things "Software Defined", but they just aren't.

        How is this different than dropping clockspeed, or dimming the screen?

        Hint: not all computing activities require the same amount of power.

        It's different in that they propose multiple batteries, each optimized for different usage scenarios. The software decides which battery is active based on user activity. I would imagine this would be combined with today's standard lowering clock speed, etc.

        Power management then?

    • by bjwest ( 14070 ) on Tuesday October 06, 2015 @07:55AM (#50669199)

      The batteries are not software defined, their usage is. Get it straight. I understand that its very 21st century to make things "Software Defined", but they just aren't.

      What!?! You mean I can't just sit at my desktop and code out a new battery for my laptop? WTF? This is the 21st century!

      • by KGIII ( 973947 )

        Sure you can. You just have to 3D print it. The technology is already there or just right around the corner - it will be here in six months. This is revolutionary and will change the dynamics! Coupled with a webscale P2P integration process and a community driven knowledge base we will see bottom-up social changes ensuring protection for the marginalized classes and the impoverished alike!

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by leuk_he ( 194174 )

      Just as a software defined datacenter still needs lots of hardware. This is the same definition of software defined. There is plenty hardware available, But instead as using it as"just hardware", or "just a battery" you optimize it as it is used.

      e.g. A Li-ion battery has more wear and tear if it is stored at 100% charge. So you only top it off if you expect the user to unplug it soon. (e.g when charging the phone in the night, you to it off an hour before wakeup).

      If there are multiple batteries, with diff

      • Just as a software defined datacenter still needs lots of hardware. This is the same definition of software defined. There is plenty hardware available, But instead as using it as"just hardware", or "just a battery" you optimize it as it is used.

        e.g. A Li-ion battery has more wear and tear if it is stored at 100% charge. So you only top it off if you expect the user to unplug it soon. (e.g when charging the phone in the night, you to it off an hour before wakeup).

        If there are multiple batteries, with different parameters you can optimize for those parameters. And this is a "free"optimization. You get a few percentage extra capacity in the long run, just by exposing the batteries to the OS.

        But you should not expect big leaps from this. Batteries are used in portable devices, which are weight and space contrained. with other words: they will have minimal specification.

        There is already a bunch of back-and-forth between battery charge, user-demand, and the OS in a modern OS with advanced energy management such as OS X. I'm not sure what voodoo MS has in mind over and above the Techniques already employed by Apple [apple.com] for their systems. And keep in mind that that whitepaper was written against a version of OS X now two major revisions old.

        This "Software Defined Batteries" is nothing more than Marketspeak for efficiency-tuning techniques like Apple has been doing for years now

        • by leuk_he ( 194174 )

          All the innovations described in that paper are power Usage optimizations. Battery is still considered a source that has a number of energy units. For usage optimization that works. However, as more and more of a battery is understood, there are more parameters of a battery you can optimize: charging and storage behavior.

          • All the innovations described in that paper are power Usage optimizations. Battery is still considered a source that has a number of energy units. For usage optimization that works. However, as more and more of a battery is understood, there are more parameters of a battery you can optimize: charging and storage behavior.

            While I don't for one second doubt that there are parameters of secondary (and even primary) batteries that could be (better) understood, I think that charging and storage behavior are actually two of the most "already studied".

            So, as I said, this appears to be mostly marketspeak. Not that Apple is above that, either... ;-)

            • by leuk_he ( 194174 )

              Oh? Tell me: what OS exposes storage (e.g. discharge when stored) to the user/applications? Can you see the actual charge current in your OS?

              • Oh? Tell me: what OS exposes storage (e.g. discharge when stored) to the user/applications? Can you see the actual charge current in your OS?

                Just because a parameter isn't readily available to the USER, doesn't mean that the OS isn't able to access it.

  • by geekmux ( 1040042 ) on Tuesday October 06, 2015 @08:33AM (#50669369)

    (Overheard in the battery engineering department..)

    "I just don't understand it. All of our lab tests prove the batteries last twice as long as consumers are claiming while worki...wait, they spent how long streaming Netflix video?!?!??"

  • Great idea, Microsoft... but please just let someone else produce the actual code??
    • Off course not. There are way too many organizations waiting for new attack vectors to snoop on user behaviour. In the future, you can tell what somebody is doing by just reading the battery usage parameters. Funny thing is that some battery monitoring standards say that the privacy implications are low (see The Battery Status API in JavaScript [w3.org] for example). This is now going to change for the worse.
  • by Doke ( 23992 ) on Tuesday October 06, 2015 @09:03AM (#50669583) Homepage

    If different batteries are used for different purposes, can I remove the one that plays ads?

  • ... no doubt.

    place multiple battery control under the duties of the operating system

    No battery for you, Linux!

  • by monitoring user habits.

    So Windows 10 really does have our backs!

    Always LOOKING out for the little guy! Thanks, Microsoft!





    PS And Hello to the NSA!

  • Someone needs to punch this idea in the throat right now before it gets deployed anywhere.

    Need I remind the membership of the decades-long clusterfsck resulting from so-called "Win-modems" whose codecs were moved from hardware into host software and to this day remain completely undocumented? Even people who put down hard cash for a WinModem driver [linuxant.com] found themselves left to twist in the wind when the 3.x kernel series came out (modems may be mostly obsolete, but FAXes aren't (yet)).

    Now: Who would lik

  • So what happens to users that don't fit the profile expected when the manufacturer builds the battery into the device. For example say a laptop manufacture configures the batteries expecting the user to mainly browse the web and work on documents. A typical business user. But what if it gets used by a graphics designer who spends most of the time in a graphics manipulation program. It's going to be less efficient for that user. Are we now going to have to specify the type of battery we need when we buy

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