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IBM T42p: mysterious SpeedStep problems

Discussion in 'Laptops' started by Florian Effenberger, Oct 6, 2004.

  1. Hello all,

    I experience mysterious SpeedStep problems with my new IBM ThinkPad
    T42p 2 GHz. As soon as the notebook is not connected to power with the
    AC adaptor, and only runs from within the battery, I hear the
    well-known crushing/high noise/crackling. It doesn't seem to be the
    display, as disabling the display doesn't change anything about that
    sound. I tested it in a silent environment right now and came to the
    following results:

    As soon as I configure XP to maximum CPU power (=high CPU frequency),
    I hear that sound. If I set it to battery saving (=automatically set
    CPU frequency), I only hear that sound when the CPU is not idling.

    As soon as I plug in the AC adaptor, that sound has gone. I tried
    setting "CPU Power Management" to disable in the ThinkPad applet and
    then the sound goes away as well, but I don't think wasting my battery
    this way is a good idea.

    Nota bene: The sound goes away as soon as I plug in a USB mouse. Maybe
    it has to do with the higher power consumption by the mouse. Playing
    with the speaker volume has no impact on the sound.

    The second problem has to do with the integrated WLAN adaptor. When
    running in SpeedStep mode, the connection is very bad. Downloading a
    huge file in full speed is no problem at all, but when there are
    multiple requests, i.e. a web site with a lot of pictures in it, the
    connection takes a long time, some pictures need a long time to load.
    This happens with or without CPU Power Management enabled, but goes
    away as soon as I am on AC adaptor power.

    The third, and maybe most mysterious problem has to do with the
    graphics adaptor. First, I thought I have a fauly pixel, but that
    wasn't the problem. From time to time, I have a white or black pixel
    on the screen. Not only on the background, but also in my programs. It
    comes as fast as it goes. When I change my resolution, it is still
    there, although it changes its position and size. I made a screenshot
    and looked at it on another computer, and there I can see the pixel as
    well, so it is no pixel failure, rather a graphics problem. This
    happens with or without CPU Power Management enabled, but goes away as
    soon as I am on AC adaptor power.

    My operating system is Windows XP Professional with Service Pack 2,
    all IBM drivers are up-to-date installed. I tested it with Linux
    (Knoppix and Yoper) as well, the problem still persists. Might a BIOS
    update cure this problem or shall I change the new (only three days
    old!) notebook?

    Yours truly
    Florian
     
    Florian Effenberger, Oct 6, 2004
    #1
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  2. Florian Effenberger

    Ron Reaugh Guest

    Ron Reaugh, Oct 6, 2004
    #2
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  3. It turned out that the graphics problem was a bug in the UltraNav
    driver. If you press the blue middle button of the UltraNav, the icon
    disappears. I installed a recent driver version and hope that its
    gone.

    The WLAN problem has not been fixed yet.

    Regarding that humming noise/buzz: It is related to the USB port. I
    have searched the internet and found out that this seems to be a
    common problem, no matter what manufacturer you have. As soon as I
    plug in something into the port, its gone, as soon as I plug it out,
    its back. However, and that one is really interesting: if I go into
    the system control panel's hardware applet, open the first USB root
    hub and have a look at the energy consumption, it correctly shows zero
    and then - all of a sudden - the noise disappears and never comes
    back. So I guess its a bug that electricity is sent to the USB port
    and that makes a noise.

    Is this problem known? Is there already a BIOS fix? I have installed
    all the latest IBM drivers, but did not install the most recent BIOS
    due to the risks involved with such a BIOS update.
     
    Florian Effenberger, Oct 7, 2004
    #3
  4. Florian Effenberger, Oct 7, 2004
    #4
  5. Hello,

    I did a system restore from the recovery CDs yesterday, so I could
    assure I ran the IBM preloaded XP image. The same problem happens
    again, with the same workaround. As soon a I look into the energy
    consumption page of the USB root hub, the problem goes away. I don't
    use any docking station.

    I installed the most recent embedded controller (3.03) and BIOS
    (3.08a) updates and set them to default settings, to no avail.
    PC-Doctor ran through the important tests without any problems.

    I also tried the patch available from
    http://support.microsoft.com/?kbid=822603, but that didn't cure
    anything, as did the chipset driver.

    A hardware reset (disconnecting power and battery for some minutes)
    did not help either.

    I know that this is a quite well-known problem that also affect other
    manufactures for years (I've namely read about Dell, Apple and HP,
    whereas the latter one seems to have fixed it via a BIOS update,
    whereas the occurences of this problem go back to the year 2001). If
    you search Google Groups, you'll also find a lot of occurences
    regarding ThinkPad. This one is even called "infamous ThinkPad noise"
    nowadays. ;-) I could not find a solution, though. The only thind I
    heard is that sending in to support and to have them exchange parts of
    the system did *NOT* cure the system in any case.

    If you need any more information, please don't hesitate to contact me.
    I guess it's simply a driver or BIOS problem, that too much power is
    sent to the USB root hub that causes this noise. I tried on Linux
    again, where I was not able to reproduce it. However, at least my
    Linux distributions are not capable of slowing down via SpeedStep to
    lower then 598 MHz, it could be the cause of not hearing that buzz
    there, as I think it has something to do with SpeedStep.

    One point is that with the standard battery pack (it seems to be the
    big one, as it goes a little bit out of the laptop) using WLAN and the
    display to full brightness (in BIOS "normal" mode, so it is not the
    full brightness as it is with AC adaptor plugged in) I only get three
    to four hours of usage, i.e. not nearly the promised 5,5 hours.
    However, I was told that is normal with a 15" FlexView TFT at
    1600x1200 and 2 GHz CPU. Or is there something inside that consumpts
    just too much energy in my case?

    If you want, I could record that buzz with a microphone and sent a WAV
    or MP3 of it to you. I can clearly hear it located nearly the USB hub.

    Thanks a lot and have a nice weekend!
    Florian
     
    Florian Effenberger, Oct 8, 2004
    #5
  6. That' interesting about looking at the energy consumption - I have a T40,
    and next time I think it's being a bit noisy, I'll give this a go. Though
    for some reason I thought the noise on the T40 was to do with processor or
    the gpu - I reckon all the copper piping inside makes the sound louder than
    it would be normally?

    Duncan.
     
    Duncan J Murray, Oct 9, 2004
    #6
  7. Hello there,

    IBM Support just confirmed the problems. It has to do with the power
    on the USB port that is made audible sometimes. The problem is well
    known, but according to support, nothing can be done about it. Linux
    doesn't suffer from this problem as it uses different techniques in
    powering the USB port, according to support.

    I'll write back to them tomorrow, because I simply think its a driver
    problem. Cf. my workaround above.

    Anyone else has an idea?

    Yours truly
    Florian
     
    Florian Effenberger, Oct 12, 2004
    #7
  8. That's odd - my T40 has buzzing problems, but they aren't solved by looking
    at the USB power usage. Instead they definetely are to do with the
    processor in some regard, as slowing down the processor significantly
    reduces the noise.

    To be honest, I didn't expect my laptop to be as quiet as it is, so I don't
    really mind - the only reason I can hear the buzzing is because the fan is
    hardly ever on. How bad is the buzzing on your laptop?

    Duncan.
     
    Duncan J Murray, Oct 15, 2004
    #8
  9. Hi Duncan,

    thanks for your feedback!
    I have the same appearance here, the slower the CPU is the lesser the
    noise is. However, looking at the USB power usage, it completely goes
    away. Do you run XP Service Pack 2 and have the latest BIOS and
    Embedded Controller update installed as I have?
    I know I've got good ears, so I might hear more than others. However,
    it is annoying a little bit. I hope to find a solution together with
    the IBM support, but if anyone has already found out something, I'd be
    pleased to hear. :)

    Florian
     
    Florian Effenberger, Oct 15, 2004
    #9
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