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MacBook Random Shutdowns/Battery Drain
Reports last Updated: 10/27/2006 (MacBook SMC Firmware update 1.1)


MacBook SMC Firmware Update 1.1 (10/26/2006) Apple has posted a MacBook SMC Firmware Update 1.1:

" The SMC Update improves the MacBook's internal monitoring system and addresses issues with unexpected shutdowns. This update is recommended for all MacBook systems, including those that received warranty repair.

Note:
If your MacBook is running Mac OS X 10.4.6, you won't be able to install the SMC Update until you update to Mac OS X 10.4.8.
MacBooks running Mac OS X 10.4.7 will be able to download and install the SMC Update, so it is not essential that you update your system software, although Apple always recommends updating to the latest version of the system software.

After this update has completed successfully, your SMC Version will be: 1.4f12. "

If this update helps with problems you've had, let me know the details. Thanks.
(original article follows, posted before the firmware update was released.)

The MacBook 'random shutdown' problem was mentioned in the main news page several times in the past, but a recent mail from a MacBook owner mentioned he could start the system back up with a keypress (not power button) so he asked if others with the problem could test to see if their system was really off after a 'random shutdown' and also commented on battery drain:

"Hi Mike, I've seen the random MacBook shutdown issue discussed on your website. I purchased a Black MacBook in August. About a month after use I wasn't able to stay in "sleep mode". I would turn off Bluetooth and Wifi and make sure there was no disc in the DVD-R. Still it would run the battery down while in my bag. It took about 5 hours to fully drain. It is hot when I take it out. Blinking check light on battery. (It doesn't sound like the system stayed in deep sleep mode (from his "it was Hot" comments), but not sure what would have woke it in the case. (With the lid closed even if pressure caused a keypress with the lid closed it should have stayed in sleep mode, unless it hung.) In the past some 3rd party SO-Dimms used more power than Apple's spec, but even if they did, it shouldn't drain a full battery that quick in sleep mode. (Since a full battery lasts hours in normal use, driving the backlight, cpu, hard drive, etc..) I know there's been (functional and sleep) problems in the past with some so-dimms not meeting apple's power requirements so I asked him if he had any 3rd party memory installed-Mike)
I have 2 (1GB) DD2 SODIMMs (Kingston).
(He later wrote)
I tested this all of last night - with the original (2) 256MB - it didn't do it as much, but still did it. (I asked if the system log had any entries dated when the shutdown or sleep problem happened-Mike)
Here's the only events from the system log I can see that I can "question"

Oct 13 07:34:38 philip-smiths-computer kernel[0]: IOHibernatePollerOpen, ml_get_interrupts_enabled 0

And this is interesting because I only turn bluetooth on to use it. I have not had it on this morning:

IOBluetoothHCIController::restartShutdownWL this is a wake from sleep
Oct 13 07:34:38 philip-smiths-computer kernel[0]: System Wake

(His original Notes/Question on Random Shutdown - is the Mac really Off follows)
About 3 weeks ago, I would get what appeared to be a "Random Shutdown" as mentioned here and on other websites. The sleep light would not come on, the screen would go blank, the hard drive and fan would spin down.
I noticed that after 3 times holding down the space bar for 5 seconds the Macbook would come back up. I wonder if the "random shutdown issue" many readers have reported is actually just this "deep sleep". Could you ask your readers about this and if any of them have experienced sleep issues with their MacBooks?

Thanks, Philip
www.fixyourthinking.com "

I assumed from the past comments on sudden shutdowns that the system actually shut down/powered off. I know some readers that had this problem have already sent their MacBooks in for repair (and gotten them back) but if anyone that still has the problem can check this let me know. Thanks. (NOTE: Also include a note if you applied the latest MacBook SMC Firmware Update 1.1 released on Oct. 26th.)
(BTW - the Apple kbase doc on this issue said to 'contact applecare'. A reader with the problem recently said that when he called, the first thing they asked was if he had 3rd party ram installed. He did, so they asked he remove it/reinstall the original So-dimms and test again, although he doesn't think that's a factor. Just a FYI to be prepared for that if you do. Some very early MacBook Pro owners had random shutdown problems with some 3rd party memory, but the MacBook issue isn't generally thought to be related to that.)

Other MacBook Owner Replies: Here's recent replies from other MacBook owners:

First Feedback on MacBook SMC Firmware Update 1.1 Here's the first MacBook user reports on yesterday's MacBook SMC Firmware Update 1.1:

" I installed the latest 1.1 firmware update for my MacBook several hours ago. Problem solved!
Before doing this I had unexpected or random shutdowns up to 8 times per day. These shutdowns would usually happen 2 to 10 minutes after waking up my MacBook from sleep. As another MacBook owner stated I would also often have to restart my MacBook 2 or 3 times after several shutdowns before it would become stable. I also notice that these frequent random shutdowns would cause a game that I often play Nanosaur 2 framerate to slow down and become unplayable. Restarting my MacBook and starting up into Safe Boot Mode which automatically runs a complete FSCK (Single User Startup and File System Check) during the load process seemed to help bring the frame rate back up to normal in Nanosaur 2. Anyway I can now play Nanosaur 2 with no problems.
It now seems like the only reason for me to now visit the Apple Store is to get my top case replaced due to the well know discoloration problem.
Thanks, Glenn P "

Another reader noted improvements:

(added 10/27/2006)
"MacBook SMC fimware update 1.1
Works for me. My macbook would shut down when booting from cold. It would take 3-4 reboots to get it going, but once warmed up the book would never shut down. Ran once for 24/7 without a shutdown but once I it shut off I would have to through the 3-4 restarts to get it going.
The firmware fixed this right away. Installed the update, turned off the book for a couple hours until dead cold and then did a restart without a problem.
Glad I put off taking it to an Apple store. In my case I always thought it was some type of monitoring problem, with the sensors or whatever. Anyway it now works the way it is supposed to.
cheers, William "

If this update helps with problems you've had, let me know the details. Thanks.


(added 10/27/2006)
"My macbook was sent in for repairs earlier this summer and I havent had any random shutdowns since it was returned, but I figured I ought to install the SMC 1.1 firmware update anyway. Ironically, the macbook randomly shutdown during the 1.1 update installation (it installs to / Applications/Utilities). It then shutdown during the next 4 boot attempts (i tried a pmu reset after 2 boot attempts, but that didnt help). When it finally booted, i retried the 1.1 update and it completed successfully.

I havent had any random shutdowns since the 1.1 update, but that was only 30 minutes ago... so we'll have to wait and see. i'm running 10.4.8 on a 2ghz white (4h619)
-Jason Y."

Note: I've created a separate page with these and many other later sent MacBook owner reports on the SMC Firmware Update 1.1


(Reports below were before the MacBook SMC Firmware Update 1.1 was released.)

"I saw your note today on your website, I assure you my MacBook definitely had random shutdown issues. It was not in sleep. It was physcially powered off. See MacBookRandomShutdown.com for more.

More common symptoms (as what I had too) were that the mac would not start up. It would turn on, start booting, and turn right off despite being plugged in with full power.

The official apple fix is to replace the faulty heat sink (and apparenty some wire in the heat sink that could cause even cool macs to not start up right). The new heat sink fixed my mac.
-Jordan P. "

A wire contacting the heatsink (and melting through the insulation) was originally reported to be the cause of the random shutdowns before apple posted the kbase doc on it, although someone said even after re-insulating the wire -only - (user repair) he had the problem again. (He didn't re-route it to avoid contact w/heatsink again?) The first MacBook owner that commented on the shutdown repair here said the Apple repair list showed a replaced logic board, ("M42" - new model?) heatsink and (in his case) even the hard drive. (Not sure why the hard drive was replaced.) This MacBook owner also mentioned the repair included a logic board replacement, but also mentioned a similar problem as Philip, although he said he was not running on battery power.

"Mike, I just read the reader report regarding "deep sleep" -- an incredibly well timed report, as it turns out.
My black MacBook (purchased in May '06) went in to Apple for the random shutdown issue. It had gotten so bad the shutdowns would occur multiple times daily, and I barely had time to pull the data off in target disk mode before bringing it to Apple Burlingame about a week before labor day. It took about 3+ weeks it came back with a new logic board, heat sink, and a few other parts -- I'd have to take a look at my notes at home to give you the exact list.

The problem SEEMED solved, but last night I came home to find my computer apparently off, exactly as described -- no sleep light pulsing, no display, and no HD or optical drive sounds. (I asked him what state the MacBook was in when he last left it - was it in sleep mode running on battery power? How long was it left that way? I also asked about the amount of memory installed/brand, etc.-Mike)
Nope, she was plugged in all day.
I do have 2 GB installed (from Crucial) -- while my first impulse is to note that these were well within Apple's specs on paper, I've seen "standards" that are interpreted in wildly different ways. (Apple sometimes has tighter limits on memory power use at least for notebooks, and sometimes there have been some related problems even with 'quality' standard spec SO-Dimms that were fine otherwise, but if that was the case I'd expect you would have seen problems at least with sleep mode on battery power from the get go.-Mike) I still have the original RAM, and if it does repeat I'll try swapping it back into the 'Book.
Since it seemed to be off, I hit the power button... and that's where things get weird.

At first I got what appeared to be the gray startup screen, but instead of the Apple logo with the spinning "gear" icon, I saw my desktop and apps as I had last left it, only overlaid with this odd blue transparency. There was a row of rectangles in the lower center of the screen that was animated so that the boxes "ponged" from one side to the other, looping for about 3 minutes -- and then the Mac Book was back, apps and system apparently intact. (See 'safe sleep' notes/kbase doc below-Mike) It's important to note that this happened while the book was asleep, and (one would hope) not over-heating in any way.
I consider myself a fairly adept user (I'm a former Mac Genius, actually!) but I've never seen this interface element before.
(He later wrote he left Apple before the 'safe sleep' feature/kbase article was created and hadn't seen it before.)
Thanks, John H. "

A couple readers replied that what John saw was a wake from "safe sleep" mode supported in the last PB G4 and MacBook/Pro models (Although John said when this happened the system was connected to AC power, so not sure why it would have drained the battery) - see this Apple kbase doc titled Progress bar appears after waking from sleep which has a screenshot :

" Starting with the PowerBook G4 (Double-Layer SD) and continuing through MacBook Pro, the progress bar shown above (screenshot on apple doc) indicates that the computer is waking from Safe Sleep. Safe Sleep ensures that data stored in main memory will not be lost should the system shut down due to a loss of power during sleep mode. Prior to your system entering sleep, Safe Sleep automatically saves the contents of main memory - such as desktop settings, open applications, and other work in progress - to the hard drive. In the event the battery becomes completely depleted while the system is asleep, the computer will shut down. But when a power adapter is connected or a freshly charged battery is installed, the PowerBook can be restarted and it will automatically return to the desktop state that existed prior to entering sleep. This means that applications and files will remain exactly as they were prior to the system being put to sleep, making it easy for you to continue on with your work. "

I think about a year ago somebody posted a mod to other models to support this 'safe sleep'/hibernate mode but I don't remember the link now. (I think I posted it in the news page back then.)


(added 10/20/2006)
"I just got a new Macbook, black, manufactured in late September or early October. I figured by down, the random shut down problem would be solved. So far, that seems to be the case. Unfortunately, the macbook won't sleep!

Every time I close the lid to put it to sleep or choose sleep from the Apple menu, the screen will darken as if the computer is asleep. But as soon as I open the lid or press a key to wake it, it restarts, as if the computer was powered off. Very annoying! Have you seen or heard of anything like this? I was thinking maybe there is some silly "feature" that allows you to shutdown your computer instead of putting it to sleep, but I can't find anything like that.
Any ideas? If not, to AppleCare my two day old macbook goes.
(I asked if he had seen what some others (above) had:
1) Battery drained quickly in 'sleep' (or system not really going to sleep even with lid closed, draining battery)

2) seeing the 'safe sleep' recovery when powering up again (mentioned in the article above, referring to this apple doc
http://docs.info.apple.com/article.html?artnum=302477)
But I'd contact Applecare on this regardless to see what they say.-Mike
)

The Macbook appears to be sleeping when I close the lid/ select sleep - meaning the light is pulsing as if it's asleep. And the battery isn't draining abnormally fast.
It's definitely not the safe sleep either: No blue transparency or unusual progress bar. It's exactly as if I had shut down my computer instead of putting it to sleep.
The ever stranger thing is now I can't reproduce the problem! I ran Tech Tool, and everything checked out ok (for what that's worth.) But if it happens again, I'm definitely contacting AppleCare.
Thanks again, and your site is a live-saver.
-Yaser H."




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