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frame locking with S400 with mixed formats

JJ Myers

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I tried finding a current thread relevant to this topic, but could not. So I figured I would start a new one!


I have never tried frame locking multiple mixed format outputs with an s400 card. I remember hearing some restrictions on doing so. What I cannot remember is if I heard the restriction is in WO or ADM or both, whether the restriction is on a single card or extends into multiple cards, or whether the restriction only applies to frame locking cards over cat5 versus genlocking from a blackburst signal. So anyways, here are the questions/scenarios I am ultimately looking for answers to:


1. Can I have 2 different formats on a single card (where an S400 is present and available) and expect those 2 outputs to be frame locked? Example : A 3840x1080 output and a 1920x1080 output.


2. Let's say I have 2 separate cards on 2 separate computers. Both computers have S400 cards and matching GFX card models. All outputs for card #1 are set to 3840x1080 and all outputs for card #2 are set to 1920x1080. I then use the card-to-card frame lock method where output #1 of card #1 is the master, both cards are connected via a cat5 cable, and all other outputs are set to sync to the master. Can I expect a successful frame lock in this scenario?


3. Same scenario as #2 above, but instead of internal frame locking of the 2 cards, I use external black burst as the means of synchronization. Can I expect a successful frame lock in this scenario?


Despite responses here acknowledging success, I intend to fully test with an e2 and follow up on this thread with my results. My main goal here is to open the discussion and provide a place for future reference.

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  • Dataton Partner

Our experience with the S400 card is that the card will not sync outputs where the EDID resp. the actual frequency is not matching. I've just done a test this week for a project where we will need two outputs UHD in sync and another full-HD for separate screens. All from one server.


If I take the frequency from one 4K output I can genlock the second 4K output but the full-HD output remains greyed out. The S400 syncboard expects the identical frequency when trying to sync.


You might be lucky using the 60fps of a black burst generator but I'm not sure whether this will the still work through the RJ45 connectors. It's an interesting question.

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We completed our testing on this, using scenario #3. After reading RBeddig's comment, we decided to only focus on #3. I have seen enough results to be convinced that you can indeed frame lock multiple format outputs, provided they are on different cards/machines and provided you are using external genlock as your means of frame locking the outputs. Just to confirm specs and info, here is the relevant software and hardware details from the test:


- W7100 AMD GFX cards in both display machines

- S400 cards in both display machines

- Ran one output at 1920x1200 and the other at 3840x1200

- Used NTSC 480i Black as genlock source

- Used a Barco s3 to butt up the 2 WO sources side by side and view on a UHD destination

- Used WATCHOUT v6.1.6 for the testing

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Terminology seems to be fuzzy here.


The s400 internal locking mechanism provides scan lock.

Obviously, to lock scans, they must all scan at the same rate

i.e. must be the same resolution and refresh rate.


Frame sync is already provided by watchout without the s400.

i.e. the synchronization of frames between outputs

is already achieved by watchout software synch.

Granted there will be some sub-frame variation with this method.


genlock is another thing altogether.

genlock synchronizes the start of a frame to an external reference.

When running different resolutions, 

genlock is as good as you can hope for.

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