When PCIe x1 does not equal PCIe x1

Those few readers of my blog remember perhaps my rants on Blackmagic cards and instability in Premiere Pro on Mac. I guess do owe a little bit of apology to BMD, and to Adobe as well, but I did find the source of my problems, and neither company seems to be guilty.

Decklink SP is described as a PCIe x1 card requiring this kind of throughput from the PCIe slot. Therefore it happily resided in slot 3 of my Mac Pro 1,1 and did not cause any serious problems until we started using XDCAM EX codec, when Premiere experienced regular crashes after rendering about 100 frames of material. I did get in touch with BMD support, and they were very nice and trying to help – kudos to you, guys! We tried everything, but to no avail.

Then as a last resort I reread the instruction manual, decided to follow the guidelines, and moved the card from slot 3 to slot 4. And then everything became absolutely stable and all my problems magically disappeared. I was stunned.

Now, at first glance there is nothing that would warrant this behavior. Decklink is PCIe x1 card, and slot 3 was PCIe x1 slot, and the both should work without a glitch. And yet, they didn’t. I’m not sure if it is higher throughput that helped, or perhaps this slot in my Mac Pro is in some way damaged, or its throughput is reduced by GPU (I have no other card in this comp), but the fact is, that it was enough to alleviate my problems.

Therefore, if you do experience instability with Premiere, and you are using some kind of monitoring solution, be it AJA, BMD or Matrox, be aware that sometimes the solution might be in a completely different place.


About Bart Walczak

I'm a video editor, and an aspiring colorist and VFX artist, with some experience in desktop publishing, web development and programming.
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