Intel + Linux = More Performance, Better Battery Life?


Intel Software

When thinking of Intel and operating systems, one of the first thoughts that comes to mind is “Wintel”; Intel computers running Windows. Nevertheless, Intel has been working very hard over the past years to get away from this image as much as possible and this involves giving the Open Source community full support. Whether it be in the form of providing hardware specifications ahead of a product release, developing drivers or helping develop kernels to improve performance, Intel is there backing Open Source.

It seems clear that Intel sees great opportunities when it comes to Open Source through their support of the community here as well as their efforts to promote its use globally. Take a look at Intel’s Software Network page dedicated to Linux and Open Source. Here you can find plenty of tools and resources that have improved open source development along with drivers for the latest Intel hardware.

However, the main highlight of this post is to give you something to really look forward to in the next release of Ubuntu, Gutsy Gibbon. As you may know, this latest release (due out October ’07) will include kernel 2.6.22-6.13. What exactly does this mean? This means that if you are running an Intel processor along with the latest kernel (2.6.21+), the CPU no longer has a fixed 1000Hz timer tick (dynticks). This will allow your CPU to go into even deeper idle modes where more power is saved.

Unfortunately, certain applications and processes don’t allow your CPU to achieve this deeper level of idle which results in more power usage and higher temperatures. Fortunately, Intel has developed software called PowerTOP designed to tell you which processes are using the most power to help you better manage your system’s power consumption:


These developments will be welcomed by all users but especially those that run linux on their laptops and are looking for better battery life. It’s important to realize that there are dedicated teams of software developers at Intel working to improve both the performance and power consumption of our computers despite the fact that we don’t use the most mainstream OS.

In the end, it’s nice to see more support for linux from the hardware industry. Hopefully the steps that Intel has taken will show other hardware manufacturers that linux users are an important demographic and that their support for open source in the form of software and drivers is needed.

If you want to start increasing your battery life before Gutsy Gibbon is released, check out this blog.

4 Responses to “Intel + Linux = More Performance, Better Battery Life?”

  1. If you pay close attention to the image you’ll notice the power consumption on that system to be 13W. I believe the average laptop uses between 15-30W in Windows. The remaining battery time is also very impressive, 6.5hours!

  2. I have no clue how to check the consumption on Windows, but on Ubuntu 7.04 I’m using 15-17 W when browsing, doing office-like tasks, etc. This gives me about 2h45 when on battery, but my battery as only 39Wh of energy left 😉 my laptop is 4 years old now…
    If one is interested to know what is the state of his battery on Ubuntu 7.04, check those two posts:

  3. Thanks for the comment. That’s very interesting that you get that long of battery life. My laptop is about a year old and with a higher capacity battery has 75Wh. I can’t wait to check out the gnome power manager and tune my system a little better to use less power since I only get about 4 hours now.

  4. When it was new (design charge of 53Wh) I could reach 4 hours. So for sure, your laptop can do better.
    For your information, I have a Dell Latitude D600. It’s a nice beast! 🙂

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