Intel Research showed me a demo of their Platform Power Management system. Essentially, they're applying the smart, quick, hardware level idling you find on a CPU to many system parts. The result: systems that idle at 10x less juice.
The tech is applied to things like USB ports, which in 3.0, will go from polling (clock based, always checking) devices to being managed via events, so they can sleep whenever not being used. And graphics, when the page isn't changing, can be run out of a frame buffer so the GPU and video RAM can sleep. When I say more sleep, I mean for additional milliseconds or longer. This adds up, over the course of a day when people stop to read or step away from their computers. In the past, the OS controlled the power savings, and that required power to process in turn, so you were using the system's power to manage power, keeping those other components from ever really turning off. By doing power management with more granularity, in hardware and software together, you can switching things on/off fast enough to fit in lots of "naps" and you can also do it with less processing overhead.
I'm excited for this tech to go everywhere where there's a chip.