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This paper presents a method that uses data buffers to create long periods of idleness to exploit power management. This method considers the power consumed by the buffers and assigns an energy penalty for buffer underflow. Our approach provides analytic formulas for calculating the optimal buffer sizes without subjective or heuristic decisions. We simulate four different hardware configurations with MPEG-1, MPEG-2, and MPEG-4 formats as a case study. Our results indicate that the optimal buffer size varies significantly for different data formats on different hardware. Simulation results indicate that 16 MB buffers are sufficient for MPEG-1, MPEG-2, and MPEG-4 video streams from a microdrive or a network card, but transfers from an IDE disk require buffer sizes ranging from 16 MB to 176 MB, depending on each video's statistical properties.