Yellow colored USB port in Thinkpad X220

Saw in one EE thread that this yellow port is a sort of port that can still
provide electricity when the laptop is shut down or sleep mode?

In my case when my X220 is shut down or in sleep mode, if I plug in my
Android phone (or any other devices that are charged via USB) to charge
from this yellow port, it doesn't charge.

Q1:
what's the actual purpose/function of this yellow USB port?

Q2:
is there something I must enable or configure (in BIOS or I have to use
IBM Lenovo Thinkvantage to enable this "pass thru" charging?
sunhuxAsked:
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arnoldCommented:
According to the spec, http://support.lenovo.com/us/en/documents/pd015812
There is one powered, but as far as functionality, it might be powered when off not when in sleep mode.
Get into the bios is the only way to see whether the power over USB is disabled in your device.
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sunhuxAuthor Commented:
> Get into the bios is the only way to see whether the power over USB is disabled
Can't seem to locate it in the BIOS
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JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
Sunhux - The Yellow USB connector is the Always ON USB connector. I have one on my X230.

In the BIOS, there is a setup screen with a number of options. It is in the COFIG menu under USB and the default is Always ON.
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sunhuxAuthor Commented:
>BIOS, there is a setup screen with a number of options. It is in the COFIG menu under USB & the default is Always ON.

Hi John, yes, found the above option : all 3 options under USB are Enabled but I still can't
charge from the Yellow colored USB port when in Hibernate or PoweredOff mode.

In Sleep mode, it could charge.

I'll post a photo shortly of the USB settings
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arnoldCommented:
is the system on battery or on ac when you try to use it? Just making sure not to miss the most obvious possibile explanation.
John will likely be in the best position to confirm whether the yellow USB is powered on battery only.
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JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
If the system is suspended, the yellow port powers my phone. I am doing that right now (obviously before opening the lid and un-suspending. It does not need to be plugged in to AC for this to work and plugging in the phone does not wake up the machine.

I don't think it will work when OFF (nor would I want it to). It will drain the battery that way. So that is no surprise.
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arnoldCommented:
I think John can confirm, whether the yellow USB port becomes energized when the AC is plugged in even if the laptop is off.

I think that is the expected behavior on the laptops.
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JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
I turned my machine OFF and the yellow USB port is NOT powered with the machine OFF and so also not powered when Hibernated because a Hibernated machine is OFF (ram written to disk first).

The USB port is a low voltage and relatively high current device (will happily run a USB hard drive). So it makes sense that it cannot power something with the internal DC voltage turned off.

The yellow USB port IS powered when suspended.
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JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
Sunhux, I did some specialize testing just for you.

If my X230 with Yellow USB port is:

ON:   The Yellow USB port is ON.
Suspended:  The Yellow USB port is ON.
Turned OFF (or hibernated) and not plugged in: The Yellow USB port is OFF.
Turned OFF (or hibernated) AND plugged in as well: The Yellow USB port is ON.

That is all the combinations.

I do not leave my machine plugged in when off, so the Yellow USB port is of no use to me this way.
I do not hibernate - I suspend instead. I was happy that a device plugged in when suspended does not wake up the machine.
I turn of each night and never turn off during the day - only suspend.
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sunhuxAuthor Commented:
attached the BIOS screen
X220-BiosUsbSettings.jpg
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sunhuxAuthor Commented:
>Turned OFF (or hibernated) AND plugged in as well: The Yellow USB port is ON.
The above is the scenario I wanted : but in my case with my fully-charged battery
plugged in or the AC on while the laptop is OFF, the yellow port can't charge
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JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
And as I said it works when then machine is OFF and plugged in
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JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
the AC on while the laptop is OFF, the yellow port can't charge

Works for me. The phone started charging immediately.

So then your USB port must be defective.
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arnoldCommented:
Pull the battery while the AC is plugged in and the laptop if off, energized?

The power feed from the AC board (standby power) is not making it.
Not sure the age of this laptop and whether it used to function and now does not.......

If under warranty, check with the manufacturer.

Presumably the test is done with USB/device that charges.
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sunhuxAuthor Commented:
>>the AC on while the laptop is OFF, the yellow port can't charge

>Works for me. The phone started charging immediately.
>So then your USB port must be defective.

But the USB port charges my phone when laptop is On.

Will try arnold's suggestion

>Presumably the test is done with USB/device that charges.
Yes.

No more warranty
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JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
The USB port itself might be OK, but the power circuitry must be faulty. My X machine works by the book.
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sunhuxAuthor Commented:
> is the system on battery or on ac when you try to use it?
Tried both & it did not charge

>Pull the battery while the AC is plugged in and the laptop if off, energized?
No, did not charge
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sunhuxAuthor Commented:
>The USB port itself might be OK, but the power circuitry must be faulty.
Ok, time to changge laptop with our corporate : not my laptop but my company's
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JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
When the machine is OFF, the operating system is off and the BIOS is OFF. The power switch is a soft switch (not a break in a wire) and so the AC (plugged in) can work by the switch over to the USB port. Settings are saved in EPROM or the like.

So if this does not work, it is a hardware problem with the machine.
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sunhuxAuthor Commented:
Could it be due to the presence of McAfee encryption software that
prevents this?

I just got another X230 from our corporate : same issue (& it has
McAfee encryption running in it) : haven't tried decrypting (as I
don't know how to decrypt)
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arnoldCommented:
I do not think so. Encryption of data does not control the power on the port.
The power board has to have a stand by power being passed along the circuitry to the yellow USB.  Unless that is fried/modified, the yellow should be energized on AC power.
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JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
Could it be due to the presence of McAfee encryption software that
 prevents this?


No. The computer is OFF and the hard drive is parked. You could remove the hard drive.

The operating system is NOT responsible for what you are seeing.
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JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
@sunhux  - Thanks and good luck with a new laptop. The discussion was helpful to me as well.
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