Surface Book/Pro 4 Sleep Battery Drain (Skylake IGP edition)

If you have a Surface Pro 4 or a Surface Book, chances are, you’re experiencing pretty awful sleep (Connected Standby in particular) battery drain. This power state is designed to enable connectivity and near-instantaneous wakes, while consuming extremely little power think 10 days of battery life, in this state).

In order for this state (Intel calls the system state S0ix, or an active-idle state) to work, a combination of operating system, system firmware, and device drivers need to all act appropriately. The Intel integrated graphics devices appears to be a common cause of battery drain in sleep for Skylake-based systems. Sleep study reports (you can view them by running “powercfg sleepstudy” from an elevated command prompt) indicate the graphics device is active on the order of 15-17% of the time, while in sleep, causing 1W+ drain.

However, an updated Intel graphics driver, released December 22, 2015, version 15.40.14.64.4352, has improved that somewhat for my Surface Pro 4. Check it out – can you guess when I installed the driver?

sp4_sleepstudy

Power draw is still not where I’d like to see it (from my work on various SoC platforms, within Windows, I’d expect these Core-based systems to consume in the range of 100-150mW, on average), but it’s still a 40-50% improvement from where it was. This high drain is also likely why the Surface team implemented a rather short doze-to-hibernate timeout of 2 hours. It means I’m frequently resuming the device from hibernate (~12 seconds) instead of from Standby (<1 second).

The driver is currently only for 6th generation (Skylake) Core graphics and with a Surface, you’ll need to install it manually via Device Manager (great installation guide, at Windows Central), until Microsoft pushes it to this particular device ID via Windows Update. It seems to work just fine, though. If you’re seeing similar (better) results, let me know!

Synpatics Multitouch Touchpad Drivers

I’ve been fiddling around with a new ASUS UL20A-A1 for past few weeks, and recently discovered some new Synpatics drivers, which enable multitouch gestures, such as two-finger scroll, pinch-to-zoom, and pivot-rotate. Mosey on over to Laptopvideo2go, where you can find a listing of recent drivers. You want the 14.0.3.1 version, which has been the most feature complete and bug-free of the ones I’ve tried.

Makes using a laptop without a mouse a bit more efficient, if you have a relatively recent laptop with a Synaptics touchpad.

Vista/Server 2008 Sound Stutters

If you have sound stuttering issues in Windows Vista or Server 2008 and use a Linksys WUSB300N USB wireless dongle, grab the latest drivers (1.0.5.1). They should solve the problem. This may also be an issue with other Marvell chipset wireless dongles, such as some Belkin wireless-N cards.

I recently ran into this problem on Windows Server 2008, which I acquired through my MSDN-AA membership with the Computer Science society of the IEEE. Windows Vista will prompt you to install new drivers through Windows Update; however the driver doesn’t exist in the Server 2008 update repository. Furthermore, Linksys’ Vista support page links the WUSB300N driver to the wrong file, so no luck there either.

Out of necessity, I got a bit creative, plugged the card into my laptop running Windows Vista and had the latest driver installed automatically. I then copied the driver inf from the Vista driverstore over to Server 2008 and manually installed the driver. Voilà, the sound stuttering is gone.

To save you the trouble (if you’re on Windows Server 2008), I’ve zipped up the setup configuration file for the Linksys WUSB300N for your downloading pleasure.

Linksys WUSB300N 1.0.5.1