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Acer Iconia W4-821


This is a template for a future compatibility guide to running Linux with the Acer Iconia W4-821 laptop. If you have the Acer Iconia W4-821 and are running Linux on it please consider editing this page or adding a comment below with your compatibility details. By contributing you will help other people running this laptop or trying to make a decision on whether to buy it or not.

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For full specifications see the Acer Iconia W4-821 specifications page.

NameAcer Iconia W4-821
ProcessorIntel Atom (Z3740, 1.33 GHz, 2 MB)
Screen20.3 cm (8“) LED - DSI-1 800×1280 (mipi!)
HDD32/64 GB
Optical DriveNone
GraphicsIntel Graphics Media Accelerator HD 3650
Acer Nplify 802.11a/b/g/n
Wifi+Bluetooth BRCM43241b4-sdio.txt

Linux Compatibility

Processor works hangs and reboots occasionally
Screen works boot option “video=VGA-1:800x1280e for kernels before 3.15, 3.16 fixed i915.modeset=1
HDD works spams with unexpected bus comments
Graphics Chip works buggy touch screen
HDMI OutNot Tested
Display PortNot none
Sound -FAIL-
Microphone -FAIL-
Headphone Port -FAIL-
Microphone-In Port none
Wireless-FAIL- Broadcom sdio failure
Bluetooth-FAIL- Broadcom sdio failure
USBoverworkedsingle port, useless when charging
Card Readersdxc, works sdhci.debug_quirks=98304
Suspend/ResumeNot Tested


Bay Trail is an _extremely_ buggy Soc.
Google other Bay Trail tablets with same problems
Wifi fails,
sound fails,
bluetooth fails, (even in Win 8.1 wifi+bluetooth collide: FAIL)
battery (SANYO AC13F3L) is only readable after Kernel 3.17.1

Power remains on for external usb (and other devices like screen) even
when forced off by holding power button for 20seconds.!
This means the battery is draining even while the tablet is presumed OFF.!
The only way to deal with that is to press again momentarily (less than a second).
The screen background will flash dimly then go dark - you can verify this
while watching a USB hub (with power LEDS) light up after you turn off the tablet.

Mmcblk constantly spams the bus with unexpected errors.
This endangers the disk data structure.

System hangs, cannot shut down properly most of the time,
fails to close filesystems, and even reboots itself for no apparent reason at all.

The only way to address any of this seems to be using sdhci.debug_quirks=0xSomething

Intel is rewriting the linux kernel as quickly as they can to accommodate their Bay Trail bugs.
It is hard to imagine no one has noticed how much kernel patching needs to be done
to get the operating system to rescue this flawed hardware with missing pin controls.
(based on Sabayon 3.15.0 kernel)

from linux discussions:
> O> > According to the reg dumps, this is actually a MIPI panel we're failing
> > > to bring up properly. We're working on that issue, but in the
> > > meantime, maybe something like the below would work for you?
> >
> > A module paramater to fix a bug? Ugh, that's almost worse than just
> > reverting the original patch, right?
> >
> > Please don't do this, the distros will hate you even more than they
> > currently do :)
> Can we just turn hot plug detection off if a panel is present for now ?

Looks like another option would be to add an 'e' to your forced boot
line. That should prevent the detection stuff from running. E.g. in
your case:

and so it goes, the problem is that the hardware is so buggy it breaks logic.

And using SDIO bus connections to run the wifi/bluetooth devices is buggy,
as the SDIO bus is useful only as a last resort for communications,
as it is designed more for usage for local storage.

quote of the day:
.> The Marvell chip seems a bit particular as a wifi chip (802.11 stack
.> included in chip). Do you think that other chips are more or less
.> difficult to interface through SDIO ?
.Well, full MAC is probably a must when it comes to SDIO.
. The bus is simply too slow and too high-latency to .get any decent software MAC running.

Sound fails completely, but judging by what Windows users see,
it is hopeless no matter what OS it runs:

.I got a response and it is a baytrail issue, real bummer it will not be fixed
.This audio problem is a limitation of the LPE (Low Power Engine) utilized with this Intel Bay Trail solution. They .say that all systems that use Intel Bay Trail will have this limitation, regardless of who makes the computer. We .have formally requested Intel to improve this in the next generation of CPU solutions but there will not be a fix .for the current W4-820. It will only be able to a utilize a 16-bit, 48000 Hz sample rate.”

As with the 820, and so it goes with the 821…


The Bay Trail portion is so anti-linux it is a miracle it even boots at all.
The Acer portion is not that bad, aside from only having one USB port.
The single USB port is a blindingly stupid idea since it is the only way
to charge the device.
The siting of the USB connector is another dumb idea:
it will break very quickly being the typically orthogonal-to-the-entire-universe
kind of placement. Why the usb cannot be placed in an inset so the connector
is braced against something is an unfathomable mystery.

Even if the Bay Trail chip can be coaxed into working occasionally,
it will remain an only occasionally barely functional system.
I am still trying to get past the no-wifi issue,
and if I discover something that makes it work reliably I will revise this entry.


PS, kernel 3.16.1 'fixed the DSI-1' issue but the first screen needs to be bumped before
xorg will use it (HINT- hit CTRL-ALT-F1 when you end up staring at a blank screen)

PS, using kernel 3.16.5 boots to Xorg but you now need i915.modeset=1 on the grub boot entry
note that the time to get through to a graphical display can be more than you expect, just wait for it
(64bit kernel, recompiled using ATOM+gpio+pinCtrl+kitchen_sink and all other possibly pertinent stuff,
connectivity remains dead on the ACER table and there is absolutely no sign of life whatsoever)

It is still the worst pile of rubbish I have ever paid good money for,
and the ACER implementation of BAY TRAIL is still the most ridiculous waste, ever.
Thanks to this heap of steaming it we will now have a further spread-spectrum kernel:
x86 / 86-64 / ARM / BayTrail / whatever oozes up next out of Intel's septic drainage.

As of 2014 October:
It is still the worst pile of rubbish I have ever paid good money for,
ACER has earned a special place on my DO-NOT-BUY list see my DO-NOT-EVER-BUY-NO-MATTER-WHAT list

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acer_iconia_w4-821.txt · Last modified: 2017/09/14 15:56 by
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