Mobile devices keep getting better yet they’re still hobbled by relatively poor battery life. Sure, we’re getting powerful chips that are more efficient on a regular basis — that’s part of the equation. Battery technology is the other part, and we’re still on a slow boat in that regard. Even worse: more devices than ever have integrated batteries that begin holding less charge over time and can’t be easily replaced.
Enter Texas Instruments, which announced new chipsets for chargers on Thursday to help in the battery department. This solution won’t let your device run longer on a single charge, so don’t get that excited. However, smart chargers that use TI’s new MaxLife technology will recharge batteries up to 30 percent faster and allow the overall lifetime of a battery to last longer. That means a full charge on a one-year old device battery won’t differ that much from a freshly new power pack; typically battery capacity degrades over time.
Here’s how TI describes the new chipsets, which will cost hardware makers between $2.07 and $2.50 each in bundles of 1,000 units:
Traditional software-controlled battery management systems – whether implemented with a microcontroller, PMIC (power management integrated circuit) or digital signal processor – are limited in their ability to predict accurate battery capacity and translate that information into run time. The new bq27530 and bq24160 chipset for 2.5-A charge rates and the bq27531 and bq24192 chipset for 4.5-A charge rates give designers greater flexibility by having the gauge control the charger directly.
This autonomous battery management system reduces software overhead, improves battery safety and security, provides better thermal management and allows a designer to adapt the charging algorithm to support different platforms and newer higher capacity batteries.
By intelligently monitoring both the charger and the device battery, TI is delivering a more efficient charge to lithium-ion batteries. The faster charging rate will be welcome on a daily basis for sure. And since the battery can retain more of its charge a year or more out, there’s less concern with buying a device on a two-year contract and worrying about how long a full battery lasts in that second year. Best of all, TI’s system should work with any standard Li-Ion battery in mobile devices today.