Note that we have released the final version of this firmware update and have a guide for it here: DisplayPort Expansion Card Power Saving Firmware Update - Framework Guides
Archived post below
We have some interesting and very exciting news for you all! We have an updated test firmware for DisplayPort Expansion Cards that should reduce overall system power consumption in both standby and active modes when there is not a DisplayPort cable plugged in.
One of the major issues we’ve been contending with on power consumption is that the Intel USB4/DP/TBT4 retimers on the Mainboard aren’t reaching the suspend states they should reach when there is not a display plugged in. Instead, the presence of an HDMI or DisplayPort Expansion Card keeps them in a state where they powered waiting for a display to appear. In theory, it should be possible to get around this, and we’ve spent the last two years trying system-side firmware changes to make the retimers suspend better (and still have some changes currently in development which may improve some scenarios).
We decided to try a totally different path in parallel, which is changing the Expansion Card firmware to instead make the card pretend to not be a display adapter while there is not a cable plugged in. With this test firmware, when you plug a DisplayPort cable that is connected to a powered on monitor into the DisplayPort Expansion Card, the card will reset itself and turn into a DisplayPort adapter. When you disconnect the cable or turn off the monitor, it will reset again and turn into a generic USB HID device, letting the retimer suspend itself.
This firmware is very much a Beta. We’ve done some internal testing and worked with our suppliers to do additional testing, but we want to open it up early to the community in order to test the behavior with a broader set of DisplayPort devices. Since this firmware is early, you shouldn’t update to it unless you are comfortable with the risk of your DisplayPort Expansion Card potentially stopping working. We’ve also included the original firmware that you can downgrade back to if you run into any issues.
Since this is an early Beta, we’re not releasing it on the main Framework website. You can download it through this Google Drive share: DisplayPort Expansion Card - Power Saving Firmware - Google Drive
Please note you may need to install the Microsoft Visual C++ 2015 Redistributable x86 from https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=52685 to run the installer.
With the DisplayPort Expansion Card plugged in, run the Framework_DP_Card_184.108.40.206.exe tool and let it proceed through the two flashing stages. You’ll then need to remove and re-insert the card for it to switch to the new behavior. We currently only have a Windows flashing tool, but are working on a Linux version. We are also working with our Expansion Card supplier on HDMI Expansion Card firmware with similar behavior.
Give it a try and let us know if you see suspend or active battery life differences or any issues with compatibility with monitors or cables, across Windows and Linux (after doing the update using Windows).