Sep 102011

Apple just filed a patent for a simple, but rather ingenious invention that could cut overall power consumption in any electronic device that depends on a power supply unit (PSU). Apple thinks of a much more complex PSU for the future, which will effectively cut the power draw to zero from a PSU when an electronic device is shut off.

It is a very common assumption that a PSU does not pull power out of a wall socket when an electronic device is turned off. The fact, however, is that a PSU typically continues to draw power and convert alternating current (AC) to regulated direct current (DC), even when a connected device is not active. Apple engineers a relatively simple idea how to turn the PSU completely off – it almost seems to be the obvious thought when reading through the patent filing.

According to the patent application #20110215656, Apple creates an intelligent PSU by splitting the PSU circuitry into the normal regulating circuitry portion as well as a low-power monitoring or control  circuitry, which consists of extra wiring, a small battery as well as a microprocessor. The extra circuitry is used to monitor whether there is activity on the side of the electronic device or not, which is determined by sending data back and forth. If there is data flow, the control circuitry will enable the regulating circuitry; if there is no data flow, it will decouple the regulating circuitry and prevent it from drawing power.

To power the control circuitry, Apple uses integrated and rechargeable “power storage” that is charged during normal power flow to the AC-DC unit. While the patent does not explicitly mention another charging process, it is reasonable to assume that the circuitry would be intelligent enough to charge its battery through the wall socket before running out of power, even if a connected electronic device is turned off.

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