Hi all, just providing more detail on this. The RTC battery (CMOS battery) powers the very low power subsystem that preserves the real time clock (responsible for providing the calendar clock to the system) and some processor state. This battery exists to allow system time to be preserved while the main battery is in ship mode, disconnected, or drained. The RTC battery recharges when the laptop is plugged into power.
Normally, when the RTC battery drains below the voltage threshold needed to power the RTC subsystem (if the laptop was left unplugged for months on the high end or weeks on the low end), the impact would be that the system clock resets. With most operating systems, this wouldn’t be noticeable, since the OS will automatically grab the current time off of a network time protocol server and update the system clock again. However, with 11th Gen Intel Core processors, Intel shared that there is a silicon bug where low voltage on the subsystem that the RTC battery powers can put the processor into a stuck state that needs to be manually reset (we wrote this guide to share the reset process: Fully Resetting the Mainboard State - Framework Guides Note that allowing the RTC battery to fully recharge by keeping the system plugged in for >24 hours after a reset or after leaving the system unplugged for more than a few weeks is important). This happens randomly, in that only some instances of the RTC battery reaching low voltage will result in the CPU going into a bad state, which is both how Intel didn’t find this during development of the processor and neither we nor our manufacturing partner saw it occur during design of the laptop.
For folks on 11th Gen Mainboards, our guidance continues to be that if you plan to leave the laptop unplugged for weeks/months, to do so with power plugged in. If not, there is a some percent chance that the manual reset will be needed at the next time the laptop is used. We know that if this is a behavior you regularly need to follow, that it is annoying and decreases the enjoyment of using the product. Since this does occur randomly, it is possible there are processors or RTC batteries that it is more likely to occur on than others. If you are seeing this happen unusually often, reach out to Framework Support, and we will work with you to swap you out a replacement RTC battery or replacement 11th Gen Mainboard. There are possible mitigations we are investigating in firmware, like having the main battery “power up” to recharge the RTC battery when the system is unplugged for long periods of time, though over a long enough period, that would result in both the main and RTC battery being empty and still risking entry into the stuck state. This firmware mitigation is speculative though, so we don’t have a firm plan for it.
For the future, with 12th Gen Intel Core, there are a few changes that prevent this from occurring. We’ve reduced RTC battery power consumption to make the RTC rail stay powered for about twice as long with the system unplugged. We’ve also designed in a path that allows the main battery to keep the RTC battery charged. Finally, we’ve designed a reset circuit that prevents the manual reset process from being needed, doing an automatic process instead.