D. Jansen has put up a blog story including some power saving results when running PulseAudio on modern HDA drivers. This shows off some work Pierre-Louis Bossart from Intel did on the HDA drivers which now enables the timer-based scheduling code in PulseAudio I added quite some time ago to come to its full potential. You can save half a Watt and reduce wakeups while playing audio to 1 wakeup/s.
Previously there was little public profiling data available about the benefits PA brings you for low-power devices. Thanks to Dennis' data there's now public data available that hopefully explains why PA is the best choice for low-power devices as well as desktops. Hopefully this cleans up some misconceptions.
Pierre-Louis, thanks for your work!