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Old 02-08-2020, 08:09 PM
rus5 rus5 is offline
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Default Long Standing Mac -917X Error Problem Finally Resolved

Hello,

The intention of this post is to attempt to help anyone who might be having the same problem with -917X errors (usually -9173) I've had. It's the post I wish I'd found as I spent years trying to solve this problem. To try to make it as helpful as possible, I'm going to break it into three parts, 1) a description of the problem so folks can check for relevance before wasting their time, 2) the solution and, 3) a bit of an explanation of the solution. I hope it's the case that most people either don't have this problem or figured their version of it out long ago.

1) I started with a 2010 MacPro 5.1 with the 2 X Westmere 6-core i7 processor option (12 physical cores), 16GB of memory and the ATi Radeon HD 5870 1GB video card option. This was a standard off-the-shelf MacPro configuration. I upgraded from PT10 to PT11 and from a Native system to HDX at about the same time, all of which was run on the machine described. The first time I launched and ran the PT11/HDX system, I immediately got a -9173 error halting playback for no apparent reason. To make a long story short, that continued through literally hundreds of hours of Avid support, on-line searches, postings and experiments to the beginning of this month when it was finally resolved - after about 7 years. I'm told by Avid that there are a large number of PT users running similar configurations so perhaps this post will be helpful to someone.

During the ~7 years dealing with this problem with Avid, on various forums, with vendors and on my own, almost everything you can imagine has been suggested and tried. I'm not going to bother you with even the little of that I can recall since nearly all of those suggestions were unhelpful in this case.

The error could occur at any time for absolutely no reason anyone could see (including Avid after reading the endless error logs I provided over the years). For example it occurred almost instantly whenever I attempted to run Avid's demo song, "Earth and Stars". It was far more likely to occur in "recording configuration" by which I mean, small buffer size and an HDX DSP plugin instantiated in the first slot of the record track followed by whatever else that was called for (so musicians could hear themselves roughly as intended for the track during recording). The presence of DSP plugins exacerbated the problem substantially. Any buffer size below 1024 samples was basically useless. That and larger sizes could also be useless. The error could occur with very low actual processor and/or memory load (measured at the Mac) and could occur with just a single track and even with just a single plugin. It happened following some launches more frequently than others. It was more frequent with sessions running at 96K which mine always are, but as with the demo session it occurred at 44.1K as well (in that case, basically every time it was run, almost instantly). It was absolutely independent of anything else running simultaneously on the computer. There was no pattern or correlation beyond these to anything I or anyone else could see. It occurred equally in my Admin account and from a separate User account running nothing but PT on an external hard drive.

2) The solution was a combination of four things: 1) lots of debugging of Pro Tools through many versions ending up at 2019.12, 2) exchanging the video card for a Sapphire Radeon RX 580 flashed for Mac, 3) upgrading to MacOS Mojave 10.14.6 and 4) disabling hyper threading.

3) During the endless hours trying to fix this problem, I was told by various Avid support people that a great deal of effort working it in general (it was very common) had shown that it was due in part to outdated graphics routines left over from before the 64-bit PT rewrite and that hyper threading was playing some role as well. I was told many MANY other things too but these are the two that are relevant. It would take pages to explain the path that led to the following understanding but leaving all of that out, it boils down to this.

Avid completed some (most? all?) of the graphics routine re-writing by version 2019. That re-written code assumed "modern resources". For Mac, that includes support for "Metal" and at least MacOS High Sierra (10.13). I was not able to upgrade to 10.13 because my original graphic card did not support Metal which 10.13 requires [ed- I'm being told a card that supports Metal is NOT required to update to 10.13. Either something about my original card besides that prohibited me from upgrading or I'm remembering this incorrectly and I actually tried to upgrade to 10.14 from 10.12 at this point and couldn't. I'm pretty certain that's not the case but whatever is going on, this solution occurred with 10.14 and that does require a card that supports Metal]. After some effort I was able to find the Sapphire Radeon RX 580 listed on Avid's support page which supports Metal, flashed for Mac (important because the Mac launch utility screen is lost if it's not). Note here that an earlier attempt involved a Radeon RX560 (which is Metal compatible) not flashed for Mac and MacOS 10.12 which was totally unsuccessful. Note also that upgrading as far as PT 2019.12 alone did not help either.

The new card alone also didn't help. But I also upgraded to Mojave (10.14) which I'm told is even more compatible with Pro Tools in general than 10.13. Also, by the time I did this I'd already updated to PT 2019.12. Doing these three things did help dramatically and reduced the problem to about 25% of what it had been. I still got the error (by now Avid had added some new error codes as well) but far less often.

I was about to settle for that when I remembered I'd been told by Avid that hyper threading was also playing a role. They told me it was going to be fixed at the same time as the graphics drawing routine upgrades but I decided to try disabling hyper threading anyway. In the past, disabling it alone had helped little if at all. But I used the excellent and free CPUsetter app (https://www.whatroute.net/cpusetter.html), disabled hyper threading and that did it.

I've run Pro Tools many many times harder than I could have ever dreamed before over several days and haven't had a single -917x error. Even if the problem doesn't turn out to be completely fixed (though it seems to be), it is so much better now it is essentially irrelevant. Of course, it cost me the loss of 1/2 my computing power. Hopefully Avid will finally fix the hyper threading problem as well. For what it's worth, despite the fact that System Usage>CPU in PT shows all virtual processors being used when hyper threading is enabled, observing the Mac's own resource meters independently seems to indicate little if any use is actually being made of them by Pro Tools. Still, disabling it proved crucial.

I hope this helps someone. I would have paid A LOT for this before I stumbled onto it. I'm sorry this post is so long but I've left out almost everything as it is.

Russ


Notes:

- other combinations of graphics card, PT version, MacOS version and hyper thread settings may work as well. I'm carefully only stating what I actually know.

- if you upgrade your card be sure its on Avid's compatibility list and be sure you get one flashed for Mac. Lots of well meaning people will tell you being flashed for Mac doesn't matter - it does.

- if you upgrade your card to one that requires a secondary power cable, be sure to get one with the right connector. I found mine on eBay and it was fine. Apparently that isn't always the case.

- upgrading system memory above 16GB does not help. It may be a good idea for any number of reasons, but it doesn't have a thing to do with this problem despite the fact that many, many people will tell you it does.

- the size of memory set aside for PT sessions in "Playback Engine>Disk Playback>Cache Size" doesn't have a thing to do with this problem despite the fact that many, many people will tell you it does.

- I'm told the -917X error codes, the dialogs of which state a lack of CPU power is the cause, are very general and are actually associated with many different kinds of errors in PT. Although there is clearly some relationship to resource usage, the basic problem can occur nonetheless with very little apparent resource usage. Many well meaning people will tell you confidently the problem is that the computer isn't powerful enough. In fact that actually has almost nothing to do with it.

Last edited by rus5; 02-09-2020 at 06:26 PM.
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  #2  
Old 02-08-2020, 10:25 PM
smurfyou smurfyou is offline
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Default Re: Long Standing Mac -917X Error Problem Finally Resolved

I just installed a Mac flashed Sapphire RX580 8GB into mine to see if it would help. I've only worked in one project so far but no errors when I would get them previously. Specs:

Mac Pro 5.1 12 core 2.9GHZ, 24GB RAM, SSD system, audio , and video drives. Mac OS 10.13.6.

Only change was the GPU, ATI 5870 to RX580. Incidentally I decided to maybe move on from the cheesegrater to a Mac Mini. Most likely will put the RX580 into an EGPU.
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Old 02-09-2020, 04:50 AM
musicman691 musicman691 is offline
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Default Re: Long Standing Mac -917X Error Problem Finally Resolved

Quote:
Originally Posted by rus5 View Post

Avid completed some (most? all?) of the graphics routine re-writing by version 2019. That re-written code assumed "modern resources". For Mac, that includes support for "Metal" and at least MacOS High Sierra (10.13). I was not able to upgrade to 10.13 because my original graphic card did not support Metal which 10.13 requires.
Thanks for your post but there's a slight error - OSX 10.13.16 aka High Sierra does NOT require a Metal compatible card. It can use such a card but doesn't require it. I'm running OSX 10.13.6 on the 5,1 2012 cheesegrater in my profile with the stock Apple video card no problem. Also running PT 2019.6 because of problems I'm having with the MIDI event list in later revisions of PT 2019. Avid knows about the issue, can replicate it, and that a fix may be in an upcoming revision. One reason I haven't moved to a flashed-for-Mac 580 is you don't get the regular Mac boot screen. You can't do an option-boot into another OSX or use key combos on startup with a flashed 580. OWC even warns about that on their site.

I hate to be 'one of those' but I've never had a 9173 or other 917x error on this system even with PT 11.3.2 and OSX 10.12.6. My late iMac would on rare occassions would throw up a 9173. I'll get a 6101 but that's only if I'm trying to do something stupid I normally wouldn't do.
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Old 02-09-2020, 07:32 AM
smurfyou smurfyou is offline
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Default Re: Long Standing Mac -917X Error Problem Finally Resolved

Quote:
Originally Posted by musicman691 View Post
One reason I haven't moved to a flashed-for-Mac 580 is you don't get the regular Mac boot screen. You can't do an option-boot into another OSX or use key combos on startup with a flashed 580. OWC even warns about that on their site..
No, that's what the flashing does. It gives you boot support. Last I checked the card OWC offers is not flashed.

Avid have not been clear enough about GPU use. It makes a difference with screen redraw, plugin window graphics, and overall performance. The whole situation is muddied by Apple not wanting customers to go and simply buy an AMD GPU. And excluding NVIDIA entirely. Hence the need for a flashing service...
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Old 02-09-2020, 09:54 AM
JingleDjango JingleDjango is offline
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Default Re: Long Standing Mac -917X Error Problem Finally Resolved

According to the Canadian store page, Apple themselves don't even retail an internal GPU flashed for use in their desktop machines except for two MPX modules (intended for the newer Mac Pros) which cost $3,000+ and $6,000+ respectively. They're completely overspec'd for an audio workstation.
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Old 02-09-2020, 09:59 AM
Darryl Ramm Darryl Ramm is offline
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Default Re: Long Standing Mac -917X Error Problem Finally Resolved

Thanks Russ, for that super helpful looking post.
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Old 02-09-2020, 12:47 PM
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DetroitT DetroitT is offline
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Default Re: Long Standing Mac -917X Error Problem Finally Resolved

Thanks for sharing.
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Old 02-09-2020, 01:33 PM
rus5 rus5 is offline
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Default Re: Long Standing Mac -917X Error Problem Finally Resolved

Quote:
Originally Posted by musicman691 View Post
Thanks for your post but there's a slight error - OSX 10.13.16 aka High Sierra does NOT require a Metal compatible card. It can use such a card but doesn't require it. I'm running OSX 10.13.6 on the 5,1 2012 cheesegrater in my profile with the stock Apple video card no problem. Also running PT 2019.6 because of problems I'm having with the MIDI event list in later revisions of PT 2019. Avid knows about the issue, can replicate it, and that a fix may be in an upcoming revision. One reason I haven't moved to a flashed-for-Mac 580 is you don't get the regular Mac boot screen. You can't do an option-boot into another OSX or use key combos on startup with a flashed 580. OWC even warns about that on their site.

I hate to be 'one of those' but I've never had a 9173 or other 917x error on this system even with PT 11.3.2 and OSX 10.12.6. My late iMac would on rare occassions would throw up a 9173. I'll get a 6101 but that's only if I'm trying to do something stupid I normally wouldn't do.
Hi Jack and thanks for the response.

First, I'm flat out envious you've basically never had the -917X error problem. Count yourself very lucky because it is a miserable thing for which there's almost no help. It took several years to get Avid to even admit it existed. And of course as other folks on this thread have stated, Apple is utterly useless.

Thanks for your comment on High Sierra not requiring Metal. I don't know what to say about that because my system absolutely wouldn't do it until I updated the card. Sources of information on that included OWC and it was very clear. It's a large part of why I bought the card. And it worked. There must be another variable in there somewhere which isn't surprising because that's been the theme of this story from the beginning.

Also my experience is the exact opposite of what you state. I didn't get the boot screen UNLESS I used a card flashed for mac and that was also consistent with all sources of information - specifically including OWC. Another case of a missing variable somewhere I guess.

I hope they fix your midi event list issue. There's been a lot of work on things-midi lately and I know folks are hoping they're not done improving midi yet.
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Old 02-09-2020, 02:34 PM
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DetroitT DetroitT is offline
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Default Re: Long Standing Mac -917X Error Problem Finally Resolved

Curious.
Are all ram slots filled (5,1 cMP) or skip the last slot? (3 / 6 - 6 or 12 core)
t
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Second boot-macOS 10.13.6 (Avid HDX-1 Omni)

(MP 5,1 / 64-Gb)
(Sapphire RX-580 MVC-Edition)
MOTU FW-CoreAudio (for poly recording)
(SSL-HUI-MIDIoverIP)
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Post Music-Sound mixing, Production-Enhancements.

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Old 02-09-2020, 02:49 PM
rus5 rus5 is offline
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Default Re: Long Standing Mac -917X Error Problem Finally Resolved

Quote:
Originally Posted by DetroitT View Post
Curious.
Are all ram slots filled (5,1 cMP) or skip the last slot? (3 / 6 - 6 or 12 core)
t
I've had 16Gb and 64Gb configurations both with all ram slots on both CPU modules filled and each had the -917X problem described until the fix.
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