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Display technologies focus on low power

Developments in display technology promise to squeeze more life out of the batteries in laptop computers.

Developments in display technology unveiled on Wednesday promise to squeeze more life out of the batteries in laptop computers.

Toshiba Matsushita Display Technology said that it has developed a laptop display that drains much less power, and a standards group announced a new specification that could lead to more energy-efficient notebook panels.

In addition, Intel's forthcoming blueprint for mobile computers, Sonoma, is slated to support a technology designed to cut down on the energy needed to power screens.

Battery life limits are typically a source of frustration to notebook computer users. Much of a laptop computer's power supply goes into keeping pixels bright on LCD screens. Up to 40 percent of the average notebook computer's power is eaten up by the display subsystem, according to Kamal Shah, a manager in Intel's Mobile Platforms Group.

The typical power consumption of a 14.1-inch SXGA+ display (which has a 1400-by-1050-resolution format) is between 3.5 watts and 4.4 watts, according to Toshiba Matsushita Display Technology. The company, a joint venture between Toshiba and Matsushita Electric Industrial, said it has developed a 14.1-inch SXGA+ display that uses just 2.7 watts. TMD also said it has created a 14.1-inch XGA (1024-by-768-resolution format) display that requires only 2.38 watts.

The displays are technology presentations, and mass production dates have not been finalized yet, TMD said.

Also on Wednesday, the Standard Panels Working Group announced the release of the SPWG 3.0 specification, which is designed to improve panel interchangeability and provide lower power consumption in displays. The industry group brings together mobile PC and LCD (liquid crystal display) manufacturers to create mechanical and electrical standards for mobile PC displays.

The SPWG 3.0 specification includes recommendations for integrating so-called inverters into display panels. Inverters transform direct current (DC) from the battery to the alternating current (AC) used by the lamp that supplies light for the panel. Integrating the inverter directly into the panel module could lead to designs that are more energy efficient, Shah said.