System Sleep States: S0, S1, S2, S3, S4 & S5

System Sleep States: S0, S1, S2, S3, S4 & S5

Fellow engineers, in this article I am going to discuss the system sleep states: S0, S1, S2, S3, S4 and S5 in detail. Do go through the article and let me know if you have any follow-up questions. I will be happy to answer them for you.

Understanding System Sleep States S0 - S5: A Comprehensive Overview

Computers are complex systems, designed with various operational states to optimize power consumption, enhance longevity and facilitate user convenience.

One such sophisticated feature is the concept of system sleep states, referred to as S-states in the ACPI (Advanced Configuration and Power Interface) specification.

These range from S0, a fully operational state, to S5, a system shutdown state. Here, we'll delve into states S0 through S5, discuss their advantages, disadvantages, applications in system troubleshooting, and any relevant short forms.

System Sleep States: S0 - S5

S0: Working or Awake

The S0 state, also known as the "Working" or "Awake" state, is where the system is fully powered and operational. It is the state during which the computer is performing tasks and running applications.

The system can shift to a variety of power levels while in S0, dynamically adjusting based on the level of activity and the tasks being performed.


  • Full functionality and performance as all hardware and software components are active

  • Dynamic power management to balance power consumption and performance


  • Highest power consumption among all states

  • Continuous operation can lead to wear and tear of hardware components

The S0 state does have sub-states, often referred to as S0ix, or "Active Idle" states.

These were introduced with the ACPI 6.0 specification and allow for even more granular power management in modern systems.

The S0ix states, where 'ix' can range from 1 to n (like S0i1, S0i2, S0i3, and so forth), are intermediate power-saving states that exist within the operational S0 state.

They represent different levels of idle power consumption, where the system is not fully active but is not in a traditional sleep state (S1-S5) either.

In S0ix states, the system appears to be completely on and responsive from a user's perspective, but various parts of the hardware are in a low-power state.

The intention is to save power during periods of inactivity, even short ones, without disrupting the user experience.

Here's how it works: when the system is idle, it transitions to an S0ix state. When user interaction resumes or a task requires more resources, the system quickly transitions back to the full-power S0 state.

This transition happens so swiftly that it's typically unnoticeable to the user.

In other words, S0ix states allow a computer to save power without fully entering a sleep state and without noticeable impact on performance or responsiveness.

These states are especially useful in battery-powered devices, like laptops and tablets, where power efficiency is crucial.

However, achieving these power savings requires support at both the hardware and software level.

The hardware components must be able to transition to low-power states individually, and the operating system must be able to manage these transitions effectively.

Ultimately, the S0ix states represent a significant advance in power management, allowing systems to maintain responsiveness while significantly reducing power consumption during periods of inactivity.

S1: Power On Standby

S1 is the most basic sleep state. When your computer enters S1, the processor stops executing instructions, but both it and the RAM remain powered.

The rest of the system remains fully powered, allowing it to respond quickly when you need it again. This state primarily saves power while being quick to resume, making it useful when you intend to pause work briefly.


- Quick resume time due to processor and RAM remaining powered

- Continuity of operation as the system can quickly return to the S0 state


- Lowest power-saving among all sleep states

- Processor and RAM continue to draw power

S2: CPU Off

The S2 state is similar to S1, but the processor is also powered off. S2 saves more power than S1 because it turns off the processor and emptying the system cache.

RAM remains powered and retains its content.


- Greater power savings than S1 due to the processor being powered off

- Moderately quick resume time due to RAM retaining its content


- Longer wake-up time compared to S1

- Still considerable power draw due to RAM being powered

S3: Standby or Sleep

In the S3 state, commonly known as "Sleep" or "Standby," both the processor and RAM go into a low power mode.

System context is saved in RAM, and other parts of the system may also be powered down. The system can quickly resume because the context is stored in RAM.


- Significant power savings as both the processor and RAM go into low power mode

- Quick resume time as system context is saved in RAM


- Potential data loss if power is interrupted as context is stored in volatile memory (RAM)

- Some hardware devices may not support S3, causing problems during the resume

S4: Hibernation or Suspend to Disk

In S4 state, also known as "Hibernation" or "Suspend to Disk," the system saves its context to the hard drive and powers off all hardware.

Upon resuming, the system reads the saved context from the hard drive and returns to the state it was in before entering S4.


- No power draw as all hardware is powered off, ideal for long periods of inactivity

- System context is preserved, enabling resume of operations


- Longer resume time compared to S3 as system context needs to be read from the hard drive

- Requires enough disk space to save the system context

S5: Soft Off

S5 state, also known as "Soft Off" or "Shutdown," is the state where the computer appears to be off.

The operating system has shut down, and the system context is not retained. In this state, no activities are taking place, and no power is drawn except a minimal amount to listen for a wake event.


- Maximum power savings, as nearly all components are powered off

- System starts fresh after an S5 state, often resolving many software issues


- Longest resume

time, as the system needs to go through the entire boot process

- All unsaved data is lost

Troubleshooting and System Sleep States

Understanding system sleep states can aid in troubleshooting hardware and software issues.

For example, if a system experiences difficulties waking from a sleep state, it could indicate driver or hardware issues.

If a device fails to enter or exit a sleep state correctly, updating the device drivers or the system BIOS might solve the issue.

In other cases, disabling specific sleep states in the BIOS can serve as a workaround for faulty hardware or software that doesn't handle these states correctly.

Problems with S4 (Hibernation) might point towards insufficient disk space, as S4 requires enough space to save the system context.

The S5 state (Soft Off) can often resolve software issues due to the fresh start that comes with a full system reboot.


System sleep states S0 through S5 are critical for managing a computer's power consumption and operational convenience. While they solve crucial problems around power usage and system performance, they also present specific challenges.

Nonetheless, understanding these states can provide key insights into system operations and significantly aid in system troubleshooting.

I look forward to answering your questions.


  • yudi
    The states are represented as follows

    S1 - Stand By (Power On Suspend) - no system context is lost

    S2 - Stand By - CPU and system cache context is lost

    S3 - Stand By (Suspend to Ram) - system memory context is maintained, all other system context is lost

    S4 - Hibernate - Platform context is maintained.

    States S1, S2, and S3 are all various aspects of the Sleep function. If you are running an incompatible video card, some or all of these states will be unavailable.

  • gauravtiwari89
    S1: the most power-hungry of sleep-modes. All processor caches are flushed, and the CPU(s) stop executing instructions. Power to the CPU and RAM is maintained, Basically old machines are more likely to support S1.

    S2: The CPU is powered off, this state is rather less found.

    S3:In this state, RAM is still powered, although it is almost the only component that is. Since the state of the operating system and all applications, open documents, etc. lies all in main memory, the users can resume work exactly where they left. The computer is faster to resume than to reboot, secondly if any running applications have information this will not be written to the disk, This state is comparatively more common.

    S4: In this state, all content of main memory is saved to non-volatile memory such as a hard drive, preserving the state of the operating system, all applications, open documents etc. That means that after coming back from S4, the user can resume work where it was left off in much the same way as with S3. The difference between S4 and S3, apart from the added time of moving the main memory content to disk and back, is that a power loss of a computer in S3 makes it lose all data in main memory.

    S5: Soft Off-- Some components remain powered so the computer can "wake" from input from the keyboard, LAN, or USB device.

  • mumbles
    S0 - System On

    S4 } These are the SX States

    G3 - No AC power to the system

    The states are represented as follows

    S1 - Stand By (Power On Suspend) - no system context is lost

    S2 - Stand By - CPU and system cache context is lost

    S3 - Stand By (Suspend to Ram) - system memory context is maintained, all other system context is lost

    S4 - Hibernate - Platform context is maintained.

    States S1, S2, and S3 are all various aspects of the Sleep function. If you are running an incompatible video card, some or all of these states will be unavailable.

  • Naftali
    Is the sequence generated by the BIOS?
    While checking a malfunctioning motherboard, can I control those states sequence manually?

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