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Communication-based power management (CBPM) is a new battery-driven system-level power management methodology in which the system-level communication architecture regulates the execution of various system components, with the aim of improving battery efficiency, and hence, battery life. Unlike conventional power management policies (that attempt to efficiently shut down idle components), CBPM may delay the execution of selected system components even when they are active, in order to adapt the system-level current discharge profile to suit the battery's characteristics. In this paper, we present a methodology for the design of CBPM based systems, which consists of system-level performance and power profiling, battery discharge analysis, instrumentation of system components to facilitate CBPM, definition of CBPM policies, and generation of the CBPM-based system architecture. We present extensive evaluations of CBPM, and demonstrate its application to the design of an IEEE 801.11 Wireless LAN MAC processor system. Our results indicate that CBPM based systems are significantly more battery efficient than those based on conventional power management techniques. Further, we demonstrate that CBPM enables design-time as well as run-time tradeoffs between system performance and battery life.