In Podcast 258, we addressed a question from community member Garrett Miller about CPU Spikes And Errors In Pro Tools. As a result community member Laurence Teixeira has been in touch to tell us about his experiences which shed some light on this issue. But back to the original question where Garrett Miller asked....
Hi, I've got 2 problems plaguing me at the moment and I'm hoping you can help! I've been having a lot of CPU spikes and errors in Pro Tools lately. Even on sessions with less than 5 tracks - I'm not sure how long it's been happening, but definitely since version 12.6.1 and now 12.7. Looking in Activity Monitor I've noticed it often shows "Pro Tools Quicktime Server not responding" in red. Is that the culprit? Can I just quit that process? Do I need it? I don't remember ever seeing it before…
My other problem is Kernel_Tasks. Sometimes when my CPU starts spiking randomly (just sitting idle with a session open, not playing) I check the Activity Monitor and it shows Kernel_Task and the CPU keeps growing up to more than 400%. I've found out that if unplug one of my extra displays the kernel task CPU immediately goes back down to under 100%, usually around 10-20%. What's the deal?? I have run a macbook in clamshell mode driving 3 displays for a couple years now. Most of the time that's fine. On heavy sessions I unplug one and it drives 2 just fine, but lately I've had to use just 2 and sometimes just 1 (even on small sessions). My technical details are below.
- Pro Tools Version 12.7
- 2013 Macbook Pro 15" retina 2.7 GHz i7 16 GB RAM 512 GB SSD
- Mac OS 10.10.5 Yosemite
- Apollo Quad Thunderbolt interface (latest drivers and UAD software)
- 3 displays all 1920x1080 (2 minidisplay port to DVI and 1 HDMI)
Thanks for your time and help!
Mike replied with the following....
There may be a bug in PT 11 or PTHD 11.1.2 as there are numerous people reporting this on the DUC.. Pro tools Quick Time Server not responding / show in red in the Mac Activity Monitor
There doesn’t seem to be a fix for this. There are 5 pages of a thread on the DUC with no response from Avid. However I would recommend always using Avid DNX codecs and also consider a 3rd party product like Video Slave Pro from Non Lethal Applications to handle your video playback duties.
You may be pushing the video card a lot with three 1920x1080 monitors, as there is precious little dedicated VRAM on a MBP video card. On my Mac Pro I have upgraded the graphics card to get a better performance but you cannot do that on a laptop.
As to your kernel_task issue, I have done some digging around with Google and found an article and a video. If you are not comfortable digging into your computer then don’t go here, but it seems that people have resolved their kernel-task issues, but we have not tested it so cannot offer any guarantees as to if it will fix it or mess up your computer further.
Then we received an email from community member Laurence Teixeira entitled PT 12.7, EuCon and External Display CPU issue and confirmed bug. Laurence writes...
Just writing to give you my input into the Pro Tools 12 CPU spike and external display issue brought up by a listener on the most recent podcast. I have a similar issue but in my case it is specifically related to EuCon.
EuCon 3.5 and 3.4 drivers are using enormous amount of CPU power with Mac OS Sierra - from between 50% and over 100% in Activity Monitor - even when idle (as in no Pro Tools or Artist hardware attached). This causes my MacBook Pro fans to kick into overdrive and slow my entire system down, which is a very capable 2015 3.1Ghz i7, 16gb machine. It also causes CPU spikes and errors on empty PT sessions. I have unfortunately not been able to use the EuCon software and therefore my Artist Control, which of course is detrimental to my audio-post workflow and business.
After some troubleshooting I realised that ANY external monitor is the culprit. I have been in back and forth contact with Avid customer care and have performed a number of tests for them with different external display configurations with results as follows. They gave confirmation that this is indeed a bug and have logged it as such (reference GWSW-10515).
The results of my tests are as follows.
External Thunderbolt Display connected - EuCon CPU % goes way up. It hits over 100%, then cycles down to around 20% over the next 20 - 30 seconds, before spiking up again to 90-110%. It repeats this process again and again. (Screenshots attached).
HDMI Display connected - Exactly the same as Thunderbolt display. Issue still persists.
Different resolutions - do not change this behavior at all. The issue still persists.
Closing all full screen apps (in fact no apps open at all - just the Desktop) does not affect behaviour at all. The issue still persists.
NO external display connected the EuCon and the process hovers around 2 - 4% usage.
To summarise - EuCon cycles enormous CPU usage only MacBook Pro 2015 and Sierra with ANY external monitor attached. Perhaps it is a video card issue, or a PT bug, but Avid are now aware.
I managed to minimize CPU spikes in PT 12 by enabling each plugin one-by-one and weeding out some problematic ones (I found a few Waves plug-ins were a problem for me). Hopefully this can help other listeners!
Thank you Laurence for sharing your experience, it is work that this that helps the whole community.