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New tech may double smartphone battery life

Posted: 08 Nov 2012     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:smartphone battery  power amplifier  asymmetric multi-level outphasing  base stations 

A team of engineers is working towards extending the battery life of smartphones – one of the biggest concerns smartphone users have today.

Massachusetts-based Eta Devices, a company co-founded by two MIT electrical engineering professors Joel Dawson and David Perreault, have come up with an alternative amplifier technology that can extend smartphone battery life, reports

The engineers call their approach "asymmetric multi-level outphasing (AMO)." It is able to "intelligently" select, among voltages that can be sent across the transistor, the one that minimises power consumption.

In 2009, Dawson and Perreault, along with SungWon Chung, Philip Godoy, Taylor Barton, and Everest Huang, wrote a paper to describe AMO, calling it a new outphasing transmitter architecture in which "the supply voltage for each power amplifier can switch among multiple levels."

The AMO modulation technique was found to increase overall efficiency over a much wider output power range than the standard LINC system while maintaining high linearity. "This architecture results in significant efficiency improvement over previous methods."

Smartphone battery life, however, is not first in line for Eta Devices, which has been working on their concept, reaching various "milestones" along the way of their R&D. The company will attempt to prove itself next year in applications for Long Term Evolution (LTE) base stations.

They hope to reduce base station energy usage by impressive amounts. In large base stations, the power amplifier takes as much as 67 per cent of the power, with another 11 per cent for air-conditioning.

"The new amplifier would reduce overall power consumption by half," said Eta Devices CEO Mattias Astrom.

The company is expected to launch its product in February at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. Next will come a chip-scale version of the technology, which is still in development, to increase the battery life of smartphones.

The engineers hope for a smartphone chip that can lead to a single-power amplifier to handle the different modes and frequencies used by global standards, including CDMA, GSM, and 4G/LTE.

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