IEEE Drafts Mobile Computer Battery Standard

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Aiming to create a new standard for next-generation batteries for notebook and handheld computers that can handle the demands placed on today's hardware, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Wednesday issued the first full draft of a new specification.

IEEE P1625, "Standard for Rechargeable Batteries for Mobile Computers," seeks to take a "systems approach" to improving the reliability of next-generation Lithium-Ion and Lithium-Ion polymer batteries, in order to make those batteries more capable of handling the demands of the latest hardware technologies, like the need for more power and greater energy density, and the ability to withstand more frequent charge-discharge cycles. The specification also aims to help the next-generation batteries tolerate usage styles that can cause higher operating temperatures and exposure to mechanical shock, vibration and other stresses.

"Other battery standards tend to emphasize the cell or the pack," said Jeff Layton, chairman of the IEEE P1625 Working Group. "This will be the first standard that seeks to improve the experience by addressing the entire system from individual cells to the overall device. This approach makes a lot of sense because the interactions between the battery cell, battery pack, and computer require a close look at the operating envelope for all elements alone and in concert."

The IEEE added that the specification seeks to improve battery reliability by accounting for multi-fault scenarios. The organization said that involves examining all relevant battery and system design margins in combination in order to minimize the risks users might face if the battery failed "under intended use or reasonably foreseeable misuse conditions."

Layton said IEEE P1625 will be a voluntary standard that specifies the minimum guidelines for the design, validation, manufacture and testing of battery cells and packs, as well as the computer itself.

"It will address such areas as qualification, manufacturing process control, lithium-ion battery chemistries, packaging and end-user notification," Layton said.

The IEEE said the draft standard is based on the experience of industry leaders involved in mobile computer cells, packs and systems. The working group itself has 18 members, including: Battery-Biz, Compal, Dell, Dynapack, Fedco Electronics, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Inventec, Motorola, National Semiconductor, Panasonic, Quanta, Samsung, Sanyo, Sony, Solectron, Texas Instruments and Wistron.

The specification's status as a full draft indicates it has been completed, and is now circulating among the working group's member companies for comment. Once those comments have been incorporated in the draft, the IEEE said it expects to issue a revised draft for broader industry review in October. The organization aims to complete the standard in the first half of 2004.

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