Saturday, July 28, 2007

PowerTOP For Linux Adds Hours to Battery Life

Power usage is a hot topic for computer users everywhere. For some, it's a matter of how long a laptop lasts without being plugged in. For others, it's controlling the temperature of hundreds of systems within a datacenter. For all of us, it's about keeping the electricity bill under control and being kind to the environment.

I have focused on all kinds of ways to save computer-related energy. There's PowerEscape, a tool to optimize algorithms. There's Black Google which is making the rounds today, and there's switching to thin clients. But now there's a new tool which can cut your personal PC power consumption almost in half.

It is rare to find a tool that actually digs into your machine to analyze each program that is running for power use. But Powertop from Intel does exactly this - it's a tool which provides information on reducing power usage, tips, and tricks for Intel-based computers running Linux. PowerTOP looks right at the programs you are running; by fixing (or closing) these applications, you can immediately realize the power savings. You'll also see the estimated time left for battery power if you are running a laptop.

This stuff is not for the faint of heart - they talk about rebuilding the Linux kernel like they are ordering a pizza - but the savings are incredible; one guy extended his battery life from 4 to 7 hours. If you're not a kernel hacker, don't worry, the power improvement will surely be included in the next Linux release. :: Linux PowerTOP

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