Super-chip to boost smartphone battery lives

Tired of giving your smartphone its daily charge? A Harvard boffin might just have found the key to boosting its juice by 20%...

As chipmakers strive to improve the processing power of chips, they sometimes forget the need to conserve electric power for mobile devices. The fatal flaw in the iPhone has always been battery life. But that could be about to change thanks to the sterling work of Harvard graduate Wonyoung Kim.

He's just patented a multi-core voltage regulator (MCVR) that could lead to smarter smartphones, slimmer laptops and, most excitingly, more energy efficient data centres.

The MCVR works in a similar way to turning the lights off when you leave a room. It uses an algorithm that cuts power to parts of the processor not in use at a rate of one-volt in under 20 nanoseconds. That means a 2.4-volt input can be scaled down to as low as 0.4-volts.

Systems currently rely on off-chip, board-level voltage regulators. By integrating the voltage regulator Kim has paved the way for hyper-efficient chips that add a production cost of just 10 percent, for 20 percent battery-life improvement.

Watch this space for further developments.