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08-23-2019

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P52S: thunderbolt controller bricked after bios+windows update

2019-08-23, 21:36 PM

Yesterday morning after waking my ThinkPad P52s (Windows 10 x64) from sleep the following happened:

  1. As usual after waking my laptop after having connected to the power adaptor from home, my keyboard, mouse and external display connected to thunderbolt were not waking up. Usually a simple reboot is enough to get the devices back on line, but since I have been trying to solve this issue for a long time, I checked if some system updates were available using lenovo system update tool. My company IT had also pushed some windows updates so I did both sets of updates.
  2. Right after the ensuing reboot, the "A Thunderbolt controller has experienced a problem and cannot connect to devices or other computers until new firmware is installed" dialog box popped up twice. I keep getting this each time I reboot, or whenever I fiddle with the thunderbolt drivers.
  3. Thunderbolt docking connected through the thunderbolt port stopped working properly (peripherals connected to the dock stopped being visible). I was able to use the docking just fine the previous day.

 

I've done the following:

  • Tried uninstalling reinstalling the thunderbolt software corresponding to my model (P52S). When I uninstall, the software gets reinstalled immediately, unless I disable internet access. The moment I install the newest software, I am getting the message again.
  • Tried updating the thunderbolt firmware. When I do, I get an message saying that the update cannot be completed because the controller is in safe mode. Tried to bypass this using the method advised somewhere in this forum, which consists of using a lower-level firmware update utility and passing it tbt.bin file from the firmware update package. Still getting an error message at the beginning saying the image verification will be minimal due to controller being in safe mode, and another at the end saying the firmware upgrade failed.
  • Tried reverting system to a previous restore point well before the upgrade I did yesterday. No change in behavior.
  • Tried reverting BIOS upgrade to previous version (I'm now at 1.21, the one I had upgrade to when things started going south was 1.22). No change in behavior.

 I've read hundreds of posts on this forum relating similar, but not quite identical issues. In my case, it seems that I am stuck in some kind of deadlock: controller is in safe mode, and because of this refuses to install docking firmware, yet only doing this operation successfully will put the controller out of safe mode. How do you get out of this crazy situation?

 

Since this is a company-owned laptop, I am entitled to premium support. We contacted the local Lenovo support guy today, but I am not too hopeful, since the guy is basically restarting things at step one and asking me to try things that I've already attempted hundreds of times. The lenovo service ticket number is 8013577059.

 

Any help or suggestion appreciated.

 

Regards,

 

L.

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6 Posts

01-17-2010

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Re: P52S: thunderbolt controller bricked after bios+windows update

2019-08-24, 20:25 PM

I had the same problem with my P52s on aug 17 2019

 

what premium support port told me is that the on motherboard Intel thunderbolt controller gets bricked after 6 months to one year and the only remedy is to replace the motherboard 

 

the intel chipsets are integrated into the system and no workaround 

 

i also am am on computer under company lease and premium support also offered a loaner but I will use company IT

 

 

The about on thunderbolt software says controller version unknown and sometimes won’t take power

 

devices in thunderbolt port will not function except to sometimes pass power through... usb-c also behavior is sometimes not passing power at this point

 

i will move boot drive to another laptop and should get me going 

 

this is should be documented as a known problem 

 

 

 

 

 

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6 Posts

01-17-2010

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Re: P52S: thunderbolt controller bricked after bios+windows update

2019-08-24, 20:31 PM

Note

 

IT tested my thunderbolt dock and it worked fine on another system and passed power fine 

 

lenovo technician indicated that there is no workaround once you are bricked due to proprietary intel hardware and software interface is not open and they cannot update the device 

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12 Posts

08-14-2019

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Re: P52S: thunderbolt controller bricked after bios+windows update

2019-08-28, 13:12 PM

Also experiencing this problem.  Going to have laptop sent in for Motherboard replacement.

Happened right after installing latest BIOS 1.22.  

 

Happening to others also, detailed in this thread:
https://forums.lenovo.com/t5/ThinkPad-P-and-W-Series-Mobile/ThinkPad-P52s-charging-Thunderbolt-issues/m-p/4493271

 

 

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6 Posts

08-23-2019

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Re: P52S: thunderbolt controller bricked after bios+windows update

2019-08-28, 14:53 PM

I also tested the thunderbolt dock with a co-worker's laptop who uses the same model (P52S), and I also confirm that the dock itself is perfectly fine.

Yesterday, I did some other trials which involved turning off internet connection and thunderbolt service before uninstalling the thunderbolt driver and software, then rebooting and reinstalling. After that, I was able to start the firmware upgrade without being blocked using a low-level firmware upgrade utility (but the front-end check was still complaining about the controller being in safe mode). However, doing this froze my laptop at 68% of the firmware upgrade process and after waiting for a timeout for 30 minutes without any change and with a completely unresponsive laptop,  I ended up having to perform a hard reboot with an incomplete FW upgrade.

As expected, it wrecked the thunderbolt controller for good, and now they are not even showing up in device drivers nor using lspci, which I guess means my motherboad is irremediably fried, unless there is a way to go back to factory configuration? If somebody knows how to do that, please jump in.

Lenovo support said they would come replace the motherboard tomorrow or Friday.

 

Is it expected to see absolutely no answer from a Lenovo representative on a support forum like this and for a post like this? Frankly, I am not very impressed with their support so far.

 

Thanks,

 

L.

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6 Posts

08-23-2019

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  • Message 6 of 13

Re: P52S: thunderbolt controller bricked after bios+windows update

2019-08-28, 14:58 PM

To conclude, now it is clear that if there is any "soft" solution to get out of this deadlock, I will never know what it is, because my last trial permanently damaged the thunderbolt controllers on the motherboard. So, know this if you get in this situation and your warranty is expired and you plan to try retracing my steps. There is very definite danger to wreck your laptop permanently, or at least, make it permanently unable to use the thunderbolt interface.

 

L.

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6 Posts

01-17-2010

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  • Message 7 of 13

Re: P52S: thunderbolt controller bricked after bios+windows update

2019-09-01, 18:15 PM

After replacing laptop AND turning on thunderbolt in BIOS (Enable, no security, available in boot), the dock was back up.

 

Still having issues with seeing the device in Thunderbolt Software, but its up, and working.

 

Firmware update does not work.  but I think I need to remove and reinstall drives, etc.

 

This seems to be a recall issue, but Lenovo has not done one.

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12 Posts

08-14-2019

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Re: P52S: thunderbolt controller bricked after bios+windows update

2019-09-05, 16:50 PM

Finally a possible fix,  unfortunately my P52S is in for what I assume is motherboard replacement so I don't know if this would have revived it :
https://forums.lenovo.com/t5/ThinkPad-P-and-W-Series-Mobile/Critical-Intel-Thunderbolt-Software-and-Firmware-Updates/td-p/4519761

( Updated with the correct link )

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6 Posts

08-23-2019

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Re: P52S: thunderbolt controller bricked after bios+windows update

2019-09-05, 17:06 PM

Why would this be a solution? The post you are pointing to is for P52, not P52S.

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6 Posts

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Re: P52S: thunderbolt controller bricked after bios+windows update

2019-09-05, 17:06 PM
And it does not even propose a solution: just pointing out some inconsistency.
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12 Posts

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  • Message 11 of 13

Re: P52S: thunderbolt controller bricked after bios+windows update

2019-09-05, 17:16 PM

Here's a more direct link, I posted the wrong forum post( since updated )
https://pcsupport.lenovo.com/us/en/solutions/ht508988

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12 Posts

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Re: P52S: thunderbolt controller bricked after bios+windows update

2019-09-05, 17:26 PM

It does still show the P52s firmware fix for this as "Pending" also.

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1 Posts

11-28-2019

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  • Message 13 of 13

Re: P52S: thunderbolt controller bricked after bios+windows update

2019-12-02, 10:03 AM

I'm getting this "A Thunderbolt controller has experienced a problem..." error also. It appeared after the latest BIOS update, which I installed via the Lenovo System Update last week. Laptop is about 7 months old, and is handled by the company's IT support, so I'll be contacting them.

 

There was a new Thunderbolt firmware released on 17th of September, but updating to it fails due to the safe mode issue discussed earlier in this thread. 

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