Microsoft details Windows 10 Power Throttling savings

April 19, 2017 | 09:25

Tags: #beta #kaby-lake #macos #power-saving #skylake #windows-10 #windows-insider

Companies: #apple #microsoft

Microsoft has released its findings on a trial of power-throttling technology in Windows 10, and claims that it can boost battery life by up to 11 percent - though, at present, only on selected Intel processors.

Part of a larger trial being run by Microsoft through its Windows Insider beta-test programme, power throttling is simple yet seemingly extremely effective: tasks which are running in the background are forced into running at the processor's lowest possible power state - meaning that they still operate correctly, but power draw is minimised. As soon as any given task is brought to the foreground, the processor is allowed to enter its higher-performance high-drain modes - but even allowing for this, Microsoft claims it has data showing up to an 11 percent increase in battery life with power throttling enabled.

'You may remember some of our January power experiments we mentioned in Build 15002’s release notes,' Microsoft's Bill Karagounis explains in a blog post on the topic. 'Power Throttling was one of those experiments, and showed up to 11% savings in CPU power consumption for some of the most strenuous use cases. We’ve been hard at work making improvements and listening to Windows Insider feedback since then, so this capability should help many of you see a nice boost in battery life!

'How does it work? To give great performance to the apps you’re using, while at the same time power throttling background work, we built a sophisticated detection system into Windows. The OS identifies work that is important to you (apps in the foreground, apps playing music, as well as other categories of important work we infer from the demands of running apps and the apps the user interacts with).'

Microsoft isn't the only company to be working on such power-saving techniques, of course: rival Apple has had an equivalent feature, dubbed App Nap, built into its macOS platform for some considerable time. Microsoft's equivalent, though, offers finer-grained control: the power throttling system can be toggled on and off by switching to the Battery Saver or Recommended energy profiles from the Best Performance setting, or disabled on a per-application basis for software with which it plays poorly. Developers, meanwhile, have been promised API access for controlling power throttling soon.

At present the feature is exclusive to Intel's Skylake and Kaby Lake processor families as it is tied in to the company's Speed Shift power-saving system; Microsoft has promised to extend support to other processor platforms 'over the next few months.'

Power throttling, which Microsoft warns is a working title subject to change, is available now to Windows Insiders on Windows 10 Build 16176; Microsoft has not yet offered a timeline for general release.
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