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Optimizing the Virtual Desktop Experience

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Optimizing the Virtual Desktop Experience

My name is Fahd Pirzada and I am a part of the Solutions Marketing team at Dell. I have been working on the desktop virtualization technologies for the past few years so I am excited to have the opportunity to talk about the availability of a new product feature from Microsoft, called RemoteFX, that improves the end user experience for our desktop virtualization customers. This feature is available as a part of the beta release of Windows Server 2008 R2 Service Pack 1 that became publicly available today at the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference. Before I talk about the specifics of the Dell infrastructure, let me give you some context about this feature.
 
On March 18, during its desktop virtualization hour event, Microsoft announced an upcoming feature of Windows Server 2008 R2 Service Pack 1, called Microsoft RemoteFX that is a key enhancement to the end user experience for desktop virtualization; that same day, Citrix also announced an agreement with Microsoft around future support of RemoteFX in XenDesktop. RemoteFX is an extension of the Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) to provide a high-end graphics experience for virtual desktops. The remote users are able to access 3D applications, full-motion videos and multimedia animations in a Windows 3D Aero virtual desktop environment. So RemoteFX brings out the full potential of Windows 7 in a virtual desktop environment and provides a quantum leap for end user experience from the Windows XP days.
 
Dell Flexible Computing solutions provide end to end infrastructure powered by Microsoft and Citrix XenDesktop that harness the power of desktop virtualization. The great thing about the Microsoft/Citrix alliance is that at the time when XenDesktop will support RemoteFX, our customers will be able to leverage the tried and tested infrastructure recommended for Flexible Computing solutions for Citrix XenDesktop and still reap the benefits of a high end user experience with Microsoft RemoteFX. To achieve the full potential of RemoteFX, Dell is driving optimization across our end to end solution. The most obvious optimization is to support graphics card on Dell PowerEdge server platforms.
 
There are two options to for GPU support on Dell PowerEdge servers.
 
  • For rack servers, the PowerEdge R710 and R610 have been certified with the NVIDIA Quadroplex S4 external IO chassis to host up to four GPUs.
  • For blade servers, the PowerEdge M610x brings a new set of capabilities to Dell's blade portfolio by supporting up to two, 250-watt x16 Gen2 PCIe expansion cards. This 2-socket blade allows users to leverage technologies such as Graphics cards/GPGPU.
 
Dell has been working with Microsoft engineers on-site in Redmond to explore ways to optimize the HW infrastructure for RemoteFX. Here are some preliminary details about the test scenarios that we have configured for shared virtual machine servers and Dedicated Remote Workstation user scenarios:
 
Besides shared SAN and Multiple LAN NICS required to set up for Windows 2008 R2 SP1 clustering, a high availability configuration of Microsoft Server 2008 R2, SP1 for RemoteFX would include the following components:
 
  • 2 x Dell Poweredge R710 
  • 1 x NVIDIA Quadroplex  S4  (4 x GPU’s and 16GB video memory)
  • External  cables to connect each R710 to the external 1U NVIDIA Quadroplex S4 GPU
 
With 2 x GPU’s and 8GB of video memory assigned to each node this would scale to 24 VDI VM’s per node. With a 2 node cluster and in an Active/Active configuration each node would support 12 VDI VM’s.  In case the first node fails,   Live Migration is supported and functions with RemoteFX.
 
In a 1:1 (dedicated HW per user) configuration, where each user is running their virtual machine on dedicated hardware, we got the best results with a Dell Workstation in the following configuration:
 
  • Intel® Xeon® X5540, 2.53Ghz
  • 24GB, 1066MHz
  • 2 PCIe x16 (default)
  • Integrated LSI 1068e SAS/SATA 3.0Gb/s controller
  • 2 - 160GB 3.0Gb/s
  • 1100W 
  • PCIe 10/100/1000 NETWORK CARD
  • NVIDIA:  FX 4800
 
Of course any complete desktop virtualization solution would be incomplete without the desktop. We validated the following client devices with RemoteFX
 
 
In summary, more and more customers are coming to Dell interested in desktop virtualization as a way to better manage the desktop deployment lifecycle. The Microsoft RemoteFX user experience enhancements provide the kind of high-end graphics experience users have come to expect from their personal computers, including 3D applications. Whether shared server or dedicated workstation based, Dell’s RemoteFX enabled solutions offer an industry leading solution that includes best-of-breed ingredients from Microsoft and Citrix. See how RemoteFX optimized Dell PowerEdge servers and Dell Precision workstations bring outstanding user experiences to Dell OptiPlex & thin client desktops.
 

Find out more at http://dell.com/virtualclient

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  • Scott

    We have a Quadro 2200 S4 and 2 Power Edge R710, we would like to start a configuration like mentioned in your article, is it possible to have some guidelines on software and hardware requirements and setup to test this environment in our company? We want to try RemoteFX with thin Clients for 3D CAD/CAE applications like Autodesk, Aveva, Intergraph and  Bentley products.. Any help will bea appreciated....

  • Scott

    We have a Quadro 2200 S4 and 2 Power Edge R710, we would like to start a configuration like mentioned in your article, is it possible to have some guidelines on software and hardware requirements and setup to test this environment in our company? We want to try RemoteFX with thin Clients for 3D CAD/CAE applications like Autodesk, Aveva, Intergraph and  Bentley products.. Any help will be appreciated....

  • Hi Scott,

    I see the posts below, but without any replies...  I have a client who wants me to take his Quadroplex 2200 S4 and set it up with his R710s.  I've already installed an x16 backplane and  2200 S4 card in one R710 but even with the drivers from the NVidia site the machine does not see the card or 2200.  The R710 has Windows 2008 R2 installed and a virtual machine setup.  The goal is to use the power of the Quadroplex to enable RemoteFX.  This client really needs some graphics power in the virtual machines.  You state above that the Quadroplex has been tested successfully in an R710 with server 2008 R2.  So far I have tried both the 2200 S4 and a 1000 D2 with no joy.  All I can think of is that I have incorrect drivers.  Maybe 2 defective I/F cards which is kinda hard to believe.   Am I wasting my time with the R710?  I know it only can support 25w to the x16 slot.

    Please help me out here with a reply,  I need basically what is stated below by jsosai...

    Sincerely,

    John

  • Hi Scott,

    I see the posts below, but without any replies...  I have a client who wants me to take his Quadroplex 2200 S4 and set it up with his R710s.  I've already installed an x16 backplane and  2200 S4 card in one R710 but even with the drivers from the NVidia site the machine does not see the card or 2200.  The R710 has Windows 2008 R2 installed and a virtual machine setup.  The goal is to use the power of the Quadroplex to enable RemoteFX.  This client really needs some graphics power in the virtual machines.  You state above that the Quadroplex has been tested successfully in an R710 with server 2008 R2.  So far I have tried both the 2200 S4 and a 1000 D2 with no joy.  All I can think of is that I have incorrect drivers.  Maybe 2 defective I/F cards which is kinda hard to believe.   Am I wasting my time with the R710?  I know it only can support 25w to the x16 slot.

    Please help me out here with a reply,  I need basically what is stated below by jsosai...

    Sincerely,

    John