Will Pre's Battery Life Be Disappointing? | webOS Nation

Will Pre's Battery Life Be Disappointing?

by Jennifer Chappell Thu, 29 Jan 2009 12:38 pm EST

Jon Stokes from Ars Technica has an interesting article up entitled "The Palm Pre's possible Achilles heel: battery life".  The title of course let's you know what the subject is about; what kind of battery life the Pre will have. And will the battery life be a  major weak point in an otherwise awesome smartphone?

Many have been wondering about that since the Pre was announced at CES a few weeks ago. The Pre is one of the most exciting smartphones to be announced since the iPhone two years ago. It's like a dream come true for Palm smartphone users. We know that the Pre's processor, the OMAP3430 is pretty darn fast, boots in as little as 4 seconds, has up to 4x graphical performance, etc.

According to the Ars Technica article, the 65nm TI OMAP3430 that powers the Pre is the type of stout media SoC (system on chip) you'd expect to see in a portable media player (it's used in the Archos 5), where you can pair it with a larger battery. I don't know about some of you, but I had no idea what a SoC was so I looked it up. Here's Wikipedia's definition: System on chip refers to integrating all components of a computer or other electronic system into a single integrated circuit (chip). It may contain digital, analog, mixed-signal, and often radio-frequency functions – all on one chip. A typical application is in the area of embedded systems.

Also, in the Wikipedia article: The contrast with microcontroller is one of degree. Microcontrollers typically have under 100K of RAM (often only bytes), whereas the term SoC is typically used for processors capable of running software such as Windows or Linux.

Ars Technica goes on to explain that there is an ARM Cortex A8 core at the heart of the 3430. The Cortex A8 is ARM's most powerful in-order processor, and from a very high level, its microarchitecture is similar to that of the original Pentium, and compares even better to Intel's Atom processor.  That sure sounds mighty impressive to me.  The Atom is what's in my Dell Inspiron Mini 9, which I dearly love.

The article also notes that since we don't yet know the official clockspeed of the Pre's SoC, nobody (except Palm of course) knows what kind of power draw there would be. Also noted is that the number of other chips in the Pre is unknown.

Jon Stokes of Ars Technica also talks about the WebOS software stack. He says that building software with HTML and JavaScript provides a great amount of functionality but results in higher resource consumption.

Stokes also mentions Synergy and says that it could cause battery drainage:

"The Synergy approach to managing user data, which I described in an  earlier article after the webOS unveiling, implies that the Pre is fairly chatty on the network. If that turns out to be true then this factor alone could dwarf the processor's contribution to the overall system power draw."

"Think about it. If you're using GTalk, IMAP, Exchange ActiveSync, and a bunch of other cloud-based services, all of which are supposed to be "live" on the phone, that's a lot of different transports either polling or being pushed at different times over the network. That's also a lot of different TCP/IP connections being opened and closed, and a lot of very power-hungry CDMA radio activity."

Be sure to read the full article over at Ars Technica. The article sure does give us a great look at the software and hardware situations which might result in the Pre not having a very good battery life.  We won't know until the Pre is released. Of course, I'll be getting one regardless of battery life, good or bad.  I'll be happy to carry a spare battery around in my purse.

Thanks to forum member jbg7474 for the heads up on the article! ;-)