Kernel_task on mac extremely high when typing in Obsidan with video running

What I’m trying to do

In the past several days Obsidian (About Obsidian Version 1.4.5 (Installer 1.4.5)) is spiking kernel_task on my Macbook Pro 2019 with Ventura 13.5.1. I got to that because typing in Obsidian would hang - everything would eventually appear, but it’s challenging to take notes when you’re typing and seeing nothing for many seconds - and it’s coming through in chunks.

It only happens when certain camera/video calls is running - I’ve noticed it with tokbox (Vonage video api) used by a client of mine, and with Zoom if others are on the call.
I can reproduce using a pre-call test from Vonage (https://tokbox.com/developer/tools/precall/).

At this point (see “Things I have tried” below) it feels reasonable that either (1) there’s something else that changed and I don’t know what it is to test, possibly with Zoom and/or Tokbox, or (2) something specific with Obsidian I don’t know how to debug.

Things I have tried

  1. I have searched help (kernel_task) and forum. I have ensured Obsidian is up-to-date. I have run in “restricted mode” (was “safe mode”).

  2. I thought there may be a tie-in with OBS video software, but I shut it down and used a straight (External physical) camera and had a similar (although not as stark) kernel_task high CPU impact.

  3. I’ve shut down everything except Chrome (required to use, unfortunately), Obsidian, and Activity Monitor (to ensure delays were reflected in kernel_task) - similar result.

  4. Early in my research I realized I’d accidentally plugged my Macbook in with the left-side USB-C ports; switched that to the right-side. Thought that solved the problem until I saw it again but only with a specific client (the one using tokbox).

  5. I have a USB Hub Multi-port that brings my USB video, mic, and HDMI monitor into a single USB-C on the Macbook. I’ve tried it on both left and right side ports. I pulled out an old one (one of the USB ports was flaky) and moved the HDMI external monitor to that one on the other side from the others. Different things to try to reduce any temperature thing.

  6. While it’s happening (including seeing kernel_task spike to 1000%!) I’ve switched to TextEdit.app - leaving Obsidian open, but only typing in TextEdit.app. The kernel_task would slowly drop back to under 20, TextEdit.app would remain quite responsive, and I could cut-paste back into Obsidian. If I continued type in Obsidian, kernel_text would spike again. (I saw this multiple times, leading me to report this here.)

Video recording / conference software requires a relative powerful hardware, and i really wonder why your new machine suffers these issues. Yours is a laptop but ok,

Mac advertisements suggests their new products are so much more powerful in comparison to older rigs.

Also, zoom is very popular, it should not have this issues. Did you try to use Textedit or any other writer software to test if your computer works equally bad if you are running video conference / video recording apps to pinpoint the issue.
And, it seems to be an issue with the latest Obsidian if i understood correctly?

Well, usually it’s not a bad idea to keep a previous version of an app for work if you’re not happy with the latest version.
Sometimes the introduction of new features cause issues that aren’t all visible at the first instruction.

Jopp - Thanks for replying!

I did try (successfully) TextEdit.app, another reason I am/was thinking it’s Obsidian.
I haven’t had any issues with my laptop with Zoom or any other video software over the past 4 years - I purchased it specifically to handle video editing and calls (100% of my work is on video calls with clients and groups).

I’m trying some new things today to see what else I can determine - including doing a complete shutdown between calls this morning to see if overall uptime on the laptop has an impact. (I usually only shutdown twice a week during moves to different locations.).

I don’t know that it’s “the latest Obsidian” specifically - because I believe I had been using the latest Obsidian for a few days, at least, before this problem occurred. I clearly have more testing to do to try to triangulate the issue… Any other ideas appreciated!

You probably already did this, but Obsidian needs to be restarted after enabling Restricted Mode, to make sure everything fully unloads. (I wish it would at least say so when the user enables it.) I don’t have anything else useful — I hope the reboot clears it up!

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A temporary solution to solve your issue is to go back to Obsidian version 1.3.7, if the latest version of Obsidian causes you this slowdown problems with conference software.

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I didn’t realize this; will try, thanks!

Thank you - I’ll add that to the list of things to try!

Update:
After several days and a couple of reboots, here’s what I think happened:

  1. First and foremost, plugging the mac power cord into the left USB-C ports overheated the laptop at times. I had it like this a couple of days.
  2. Changing to the right helped, but, a cool-down and reboot should have occurred (it didn’t the day I reported the issue).
  3. When I finally rebooted, the issue generally went away - until an hour when the sun was hitting the back of the opened laptop. This also caused the laptop to warm up, even when plugged in on the right side.
  4. In places and times where the laptop isn’t in direct sunlight - I can hear the fans working but kernel_task remains under 20. (I do have the laptop lifted up to allow airflow underneath it as well.)

I’m assuming that because I was most active in Obsidian, it was the program that immediately slowed when the laptop was getting too warm and kernel_task jumped in to cool everything down. I’m not sure why switching to TextEdit.app didn’t also see a slowdown.

So, the update is for those who offered ideas (Thank You!) and anyone searching for kernel_task in the future.

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