Battery stops charging and NVMe and other media disconnect randomly
#1
Question 
Some time ago, I set up an NVMe into my Pinebook Pro and installed Debian there.  Later, a couple months ago, I kept finding that my battery would stop getting charged at random times and the power LED would start blinking.  Sometimes this was temporary and the battery would start charging again after some time, but other times it reached 0%.

When the CPU load is high (say, compiling something non-trivial or playing a video, on disk or streamed), sometimes the part of the computer chassis next to the motherboard gets really hot, the battery stops charging for a longer time and this is usually followed by I/O errors trying to access the NVMe.  When booting from MicroSD, these errors happen trying to access the MicroSD instead.  For reference, cooling the computer by applying an ice bag to the bottom cover didn't help, even though both the bottom cover and the keyboard were cold, and changing the DTB so that it used NVMe at Gen1 speeds, as suggested in other threads, didn't help either.

When I reboot after an I/O failure, the computer succeds at booting from the same media but gets I/O errors soon afterwards, so I have to wait until it gets cold again (or as cold as it can get in this part of the world in summer).  When I disconnect the battery and connect the short-circuit cables (the ones used to power the computer directly from the plug), all of these problems disappear, but I want my laptop to be a laptop.

I honestly can't figure out where these errors come from or how to fix them, so any kind of help will be greatly appreciated.
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#2
(07-08-2021, 05:04 PM)Eey0zu6O Wrote: Some time ago, I set up an NVMe into my Pinebook Pro and installed Debian there.  Later, a couple months ago, I kept finding that my battery would stop getting charged at random times and the power LED would start blinking.  Sometimes this was temporary and the battery would start charging again after some time, but other times it reached 0%.

When the CPU load is high (say, compiling something non-trivial or playing a video, on disk or streamed), sometimes the part of the computer chassis next to the motherboard gets really hot, the battery stops charging for a longer time and this is usually followed by I/O errors trying to access the NVMe.  When booting from MicroSD, these errors happen trying to access the MicroSD instead.  For reference, cooling the computer by applying an ice bag to the bottom cover didn't help, even though both the bottom cover and the keyboard were cold, and changing the DTB so that it used NVMe at Gen1 speeds, as suggested in other threads, didn't help either.

When I reboot after an I/O failure, the computer succeds at booting from the same media but gets I/O errors soon afterwards, so I have to wait until it gets cold again (or as cold as it can get in this part of the world in summer).  When I disconnect the battery and connect the short-circuit cables (the ones used to power the computer directly from the plug), all of these problems disappear, but I want my laptop to be a laptop.

I honestly can't figure out where these errors come from or how to fix them, so any kind of help will be greatly appreciated.

TL;DR version - there are several problems with PBP's power system:
  • the controller is prone to overheating. When it does, it stops charging the a battery.
  • the way power is designed in PBP it is always powered from the battery, even when PSU is connected. If battery is drained and not charging - PBP will not even turn on. This means that to avoid discharging battery power consumption cannot exceed battery charge power.
  • the power PBP can take from PSU for battery charging is limited to ~15W, yet it seems under full load (especially with NVMe and/or external USB devices) PBP might be capable of consuming more power than that.
In other words, while PBP is a great little machine and a massive improvement over the original PB, it really doesn't like certain heavy-load applications. Keep the heavier tasks for some other machine (e.g. a ROCKPro64 based on the same SoC) and ye shall find happiness like I did. Oh, and I decided after all that due to the power constraints, its really not worth it using PBP with NVMe drive, so I only have 128GB eMMC now in it.
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#3
(07-09-2021, 08:40 AM)moonwalkers Wrote: TL;DR version - there are several problems with PBP's power system:
  • the controller is prone to overheating. When it does, it stops charging the a battery.
  • the way power is designed in PBP it is always powered from the battery, even when PSU is connected. If battery is drained and not charging - PBP will not even turn on. This means that to avoid discharging battery power consumption cannot exceed battery charge power.
  • the power PBP can take from PSU for battery charging is limited to ~15W, yet it seems under full load (especially with NVMe and/or external USB devices) PBP might be capable of consuming more power than that.
In other words, while PBP is a great little machine and a massive improvement over the original PB, it really doesn't like certain heavy-load applications. Keep the heavier tasks for some other machine (e.g. a ROCKPro64 based on the same SoC) and ye shall find happiness like I did. Oh, and I decided after all that due to the power constraints, its really not worth it using PBP with NVMe drive, so I only have 128GB eMMC now in it.

Thanks for your response! It's very informative. I guess I'll just remove the NVMe and use an eMMC like you did.
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#4
(07-09-2021, 08:40 AM)moonwalkers Wrote: The power PBP can take from PSU for battery charging is limited to ~15W, yet it seems under full load (especially with NVMe and/or external USB devices) PBP might be capable of consuming more power than that.

Just a small correction: the actual limit is lower, around 11.4 W, because that's how the battery charging IC (BQ24171) inside the PineBook Pro is configured; see my earlier post in which I've explained it in detail.  It should be possible to reconfigure the BQ24171 and increase that limit to around 15 W, which would fully use what the chargers can provide; that's one of my future projects. Cool
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#5
(07-09-2021, 01:37 PM)dsimic Wrote:
(07-09-2021, 08:40 AM)moonwalkers Wrote: The power PBP can take from PSU for battery charging is limited to ~15W, yet it seems under full load (especially with NVMe and/or external USB devices) PBP might be capable of consuming more power than that.

Just a small correction: the actual limit is lower, around 11.4 W, because that's how the battery charging IC (BQ24171) inside the PineBook Pro is configured; see my earlier post in which I've explained it in detail.  It should be possible to reconfigure the BQ24171 and increase that limit to around 15 W, which would fully use what the chargers can provide; that's one of my future projects. Cool

Thanks!

BTW, would love to hear how that project works out. Keep us posted!
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