Popular Science had a good article in the Oct 2004 issue about battery life.  I always knew this was a problem, but I assumed that the solution was just around the comer… But it seems we are 10 or so years away from a real solution all the while laptops and other consumer electronics are drawing more and more power.  Since 1990 hard disk capacity, CPU speed and RAM size have all grown at or better than Moore’s Law.  But power density in batteries has hardly improved at all.  I am amazed that we have been struggling with this problem for so long with real no breakthroughs… Sure there is some hope for the Fuel Cell, but it is years from being practical.  What should we do in the meantime?  It sounds like Intel is looking at turning off parts of the hardware that is not used… that is cool… but what should we do in software?  Should we keep building the best, most powerful software we can and assume the power situation will work itself out or should we constrain the cycles (and therefore power) usage at the risk of giving “less-good” experiences?    I suspect that right now this isn’t seen as a huge issue, but as the trend continues I worry that power usage will become the key limiting factor in both hardware and software design.  Before the 1970’s oil crisis people didn’t full internalize the importance of a tank of gas either…now we have the strategic oil reserves and other policies to mitigate the risk.  Will similar realization happen about battery life?