Have you ever had the frenzied rush to complete an assignment while your notebook flashes the angry ‘Battery: 5% – 12 minutes’ at you? Well then the latest work from the folks at Intel Labs should be welcome news to you with technology that could be as much as 40% more power efficient being tested already.

The Intel Labs team, which was set up to work on technology that “could change the game, and your life, in five to ten years”, has been showing off their research into optimising the power usage of the on-board graphics processor (GPU) at this year’s International Solid State Circuits Conference in San Francisco. While some of the work they do, like this optimisation of the GPU, will go largely unnoticed they have been responsible for some more high profile innovations like the technology like the high-speed Thunderbolt ports that you find on today’s Apple Mac products.

The major constraint with most modern devices, be it smartphones, tablets or notebooks, is without a doubt battery life. No matter how powerful your tablet is, if the battery is flat when you need it, then it may as well be an expensive paperweight. In a blog post on the company site, researcher Divya Kolar discusses the tangible benefits that could one day find a place in Intel’s processors:

“This graphics core incorporates several new features that allow it to improve energy efficiency by 40% – essentially giving longer battery life for the same performance or improving performance when you really need it.”

Intel has already focussed its latest efforts in the mobile processor space on increasing battery life, work which is most evident in the latest generation of Haswell PC processors. Haswell wasn’t only about battery life though, the other big advancement was in the on-board Intel Iris graphics which brought a much-needed boost in that department. Intel’s focus on graphics further highlights just how much this latest project could be used to further improve the battery life of notebooks in the future.

Thankfully the work that was shown off is not just theoretical. There is already a working testchip at the Intel Labs which has been built on the same 22nm process already being used to make the Haswell chips. We just hope that it doesn’t take five to 10 years to make its way into our next notebook.

[Image – Intel Labs]