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Disk setup is different for each computer. For my work computer working off a SATA drive with only the video content (program and OS is on a separate SATA drive).
On my home computer, sometimes working off a second IDE drive, but sometimes working off a USB2 external HD.
When I first encountered the problem, it was on my home computer working with a USB 2.0 HD (also my first using HDV in PPro), so I thought disk transfer speed may have been the problem. But not long after, I encountered the same problem at work while working off of regular hard drives (well defragmented ones at that.)
One more thing I should note, I haven't seen this happen with smaller projects yet. One thing I thought of is that maybe PPro is reaching it's limit on the amount of memory it is allowed to use by Windows? Is there such a limit? Right now Premiere is using 539,360 K of Memory (according to task manager) but I have ~1020000 of my 2096424 available right now, so it's definitely not a issue with the system running low on memory.
This is a well known bug in CS3 that has nothing to do with performance of the machine. Just search the CS3 forums a little and you will see that it has been discussed a great deal. The latest update to PPro seems to have helped, but it has not gone away completely for me.