ARM: WiFi wastes too much energy


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Chip-designer ARM is known for making low power chips for smartphones and a growing number of tablets and mini-laptops. The goal is to offer enough power to provide decent performance without using so much energy that you run out of battery life after a few hours of use. But it turns out that some of the components of an ARM-based chipset are out of the company’s control — such as the WiFi module.

Speaking at an event this week, ARM president Tudor Brown pointed out that WiFi modules on laptops can draw as much as 8 watts of power — when the amount of power it takes to transmit and receive a wireless signal is actually much lower. The problem is that WiFi modules are horribly inefficient — 98% or more of the energy they use may be wasted.

It’s not entirely clear at the moment what the best way to reduce power consumption from WiFi modules would be, but the goal is to make them more efficient which would result in longer battery life and/or smaller batteries, not to mention potential energy savings which is generally a pretty good thing for the planet.