802.11 WLAN WiFi Power Golden Rule: Minimize Duty Cycle

IEEE 802.11 WLAN, a.k.a. WiFi, is a dynamic technology being added to a number of CE devices. Increasingly, these devices are battery powered. Under these circumstances driver developers have to trade-off between POWER and PERFORMANCE. Making the wrong assumptions lead to horrible battery life, poor performance, or both!

Q: How should a developer/ODM/system integrator optimize battery life for a CE device with WLAN?

A: Minimize the required WLAN duty cycle.

In many ways, the answer is quite obvious -- "Turn off WLAN or put WLAN in idle mode when not needed". The more difficult exercise is determining why, when and how to accomplish this optimization. Some simple steps which help determine what you want to optimize:

  1. Understand WLAN and how the device is going to be used

  2. Test the device for reliability

  3. Test the device for baseline power consumption

  4. Test the device for WLAN power consumption

  5. Refine and Optimize

This is a dynamic research area and will continue to evolve. In the meantime, I'll add tips and suggestions as time permits.

I will also update a FAQ on WLAN.

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