The processor chip inside my laptop makes it possible to complete tasks on my porch that used to require an entire laboratory. Becoming faster and more efficient between generations, it’s not processors that have kept computers from being all they can be, it’s the battery.

As we’ve noted before, battery technology has failed to keep pace with other hardware. Still rather large and inefficient, (especially when users like myself insist on having 25 tabs and 3 apps open at any given time) batteries drain quickly, wasting lots of energy as heat that scorches our laps. Intel claims that its fourth-generation “Haswell” chips will deliver 50 percent better battery life than current-generation chips when used on active tasks.

intel 4th gen processor
Image via Intel

How will the new chips achieve this amazing efficiency? Apparently, the new 22-nanometer microarchitecture will use a feature called “power gating” to intelligently turn off features that drain battery life when the device is not in use. By reducing unnecessary consumption, a laptop that usually croaks after about 5 hours of unplugged use will be able to last the entire work day, and then some.

Intel also says the standby mode has 20 times better power efficiency than the Sandy Bridge processor-graphics combo chip from a couple of years ago. That means you can now watch three high-definition movies before your laptop runs out of power, according to VentureBeat.

Slated for release later this year, it’s expected that the new chip will quickly find its way into PCs, laptops, tablets, and smartphones. So if you’re shopping around for a new laptop, it might be worth it to hold off just a few months until they’re loaded with the new and improved processor.

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