Lenovo X270 screen flickering continued…

I’ve been trying Windows 10 on this little laptop. Mostly the experience has been good (after removing the insane amount of bloatware). One issue that cropped up is the same annoyance that happens in Linux, PSR or Panel Self Refresh. It causes an annoying, subtle display flicker.

The problem is that in the windows default display settings there is no way to disable PSR. Lenovo does not seem to bundle the Intel HD graphics application with their driver bundle for Windows 10.

After a quick search I found this Intel KB that explains that the Intel HD graphics application has now been replaced with the “Intel Graphics Command Center”. After getting that application from the Windows Store I was able to find the setting for disabling PSR in “System > Power > Panel Self Refresh” and switch it off.

Screenshot of the panel self refresh setting location in the Intel Graphics Command Center settings.

Now Windows seems to be working well on this system and I can run the Adobe apps I need for photo editing.

CPU thermal paste

My recently purchased used Lenovo Thinkpad X270 seemed to run quite hot right out of the box, running the fans at full speed just copying a file across the network. Running a sensor reading program showed the cpu’s hitting 98C regularly at less than 50% load.

My first thought was to inspect the exhaust ports and heat sink to make sure they were not plugged with debris. The inside of the laptop was very clean, no visible signs of dust anywhere. So I opted to remove and replace the thermal compound from the cpu.

This fixed the issue, the laptop now idles at 30C and the highest temp I’ve recorded after a week of use is 80C. I used Arctic MX4 but I don’t think the brand matters as long as you use a quality thermal paste.

If your laptop is running hot and you feel comfortable removing the heat sink I highly recommend replacing the CPU thermal compound.

Display flickering slightly on Lenovo X270 FHD

I recently purchased a used Lenovo X270 with the FHD (1920×1080) panel and intel i915 graphics. I noticed in both Windows 10 and linux that the display was flickering slightly when I moved the mouse or typed on the keyboard. Even a progress dialog box caused a slight flicker with every update. The flickering was so slight that at first I thought it was my eyes playing tricks on me but after a while it really started to annoy me.

I checked for a loose cable issue or a hardware problem with the panel and found nothing obvious. I started to think I was going to have to return the system for a refund. While copying a file I noticed that the flickering appeared to be related to screen drawing or cpu events. Even moving the bluetooth mouse would cause a slight flickering.

After some searching I discovered that the integrated i915 graphics have a feature called Panel Self Refresh or PSR. It’s

The fix was as simple as adding a kernel argument to the i915 module to disable PSR at boot time. On my Fedora 35 install this was fairly trivial using grubby:

sudo grubby –args=”i915.enable_psr=0″ –update-kernel=ALL

After a reboot the flickering problem was gone.

Photography YouTube channels

I was recently sharing a list of photography related YouTube channels with a friend and wanted to list them here for reference.

Film Photography

Alternative Process Photography

Photographic Theory and Artistic Process

G.A.S. (Primarily gear reviews)

HP DL360P Gen8 Smart Array P420 cache disabled replace supercap

I have a few HPE DL360P Gen8 servers in my home lab for testing and learning purposes. They’re older and out of support but they work just fine for my lab testing. Recently one of them had an amber indicator light illuminated. I checked the ILO management interface and noticed that the Smart Array controller was reporting the following error in the IML log:

POST Error: 1705-Slot X Drive Array - Please replace Cache Module Super-Cap. Caching will be enabled once Super-Cap has been replaced and charged.

When I logged into the host and ran the ssacli utility I got some more detail on the problem.

# ssacli "ctrl slot=0 show" |grep Cache
Cache Board Present: True
Cache Status: Permanently Disabled
Cache Status Details: Cache disabled; backup power source failed to charge to an acceptable level
Cache Disable Reason: Permanent disable condition. The posted write cache has been disabled because the backup power source attached to the flash-backed write cache module has failed to charge.
Drive Write Cache: Disabled
Total Cache Size: 1.0
Total Cache Memory Available: 0.8
No-Battery Write Cache: Disabled
Cache Backup Power Source: Capacitors
Cache Module Temperature (C): 35

I can imagine a scenario where a supercap has failed, I recently had to replace a pair of them on my Liftmaster garage door opener. However I thought I would try some troubleshooting before ordering replacements online. When I looked at the firmware I noticed was version 8.00. A quick search online revlealed a much newer firmware was available for the controller on the hpe website.

After downloading and extracting the latest firmware ( 8.32 as of this writing) I flashed it to the controller following the instructions provided by HPE with the firmware.

hp-firmware-smartarray-46a4d957a7-8.32-1.1]# ./hpsetup 
Supplemental Update / Online ROM Flash Component for Linux (x64) - Smart Array P220i, P222, P420i, P420, P421, P721m, and P822 (8.32), searching...
1) Smart Array P420i Smart Array P420i in Slot 0 (8.00)
Select which devices to flash [#,#-#,(A)ll,(N)one]> 1
Flashing Smart Array P420i in Slot 0 [ 8.00 -> 8.32 ]
Deferred flashes will be performed on next system reboot
============ Summary ============
Smart Component Finished

Summary Messages
================
Reboot needed to activate 1 new FW image

Exit Status: 1
Deferred flashes will be performed on next system reboot
A reboot is required to complete update.

After a reboot of the lab host the smartarray cache error went away and it appears to have resolved the issue.

# ssacli "ctrl slot=0 show"|grep Cache
   Cache Board Present: True
   Cache Status: OK
   Cache Ratio: 10% Read / 90% Write
   Drive Write Cache: Disabled
   Total Cache Size: 1.0
   Total Cache Memory Available: 0.8
   No-Battery Write Cache: Disabled
   Cache Backup Power Source: Capacitors
   Cache Module Temperature (C): 35

If the issue returns running the new firmware I’ll update this blog post.