Case studies in Education – NVIDIA GRID

There are now so many GRID case studies both from NVIDIA and the vast number of partners involved including:

  • OEMS (Cisco, Dell, Lenovo, Supermicro, HPE…)
  • Storage/HCI/SDN vendors: Atlantis, Nutanix, NetApp, EMC…
  • Virtualisation and protocol vendors: Citrix, Microsoft, VMware, Teradici…

And so many use cases, applications deployed…. That frankly I can’t keep track or remember the specifics so I’ve set myself up an index to track these by industry:

Taking Education as an example I’ve collated a vast list in a format where I can use ctrl-f to find a specific app or server… below are all the ones I’ve collated to date, split by VMware / Citrix….

Education and Citrix

  • Butler County Community College. Citrix XenDesktop and XenApp. VMware vSphere. SolidWorks, AutoDesk Building Design Suite, Adobe® Creative Cloud. NVIDIA Case Study.
  • Drake University; Citrix XenApp, XenDesktop and XenServer. Dell R720 servers. Esri ArcGIS. NVIDIA GRID K2. NVIDIA Case Study
  • Georgia Tech. Citrix XenDesktop and XenApp, XenServer, Hyper-V. NVIDIA vGPU. AutoCAD, SolidWorks, NX, PTC Creo and CATIA; NetApp and EMC ExtremIO; Dell. NVIDIA GTC2015 Video; Citrix Case Study;
  • Istanbul Aydin University (IAU). Citrix XenDesktop; Autodesk applications including AutoCAD and Adobe; VMware vCenter; Dell R720; NVIDIA GRID; 1000 Users; BYOD; Dell Case Study
  • The Meijin Company; Moscow State Technical University. Citrix XenDesktop and XenServer; Meijin Custom Servers Intel Xeon E5-2640v2 CPUs. NVIDIA QUADRO K4000. Solidworks, Autodesk, 3D Studio Max, Maya, Inventor, and AutoCAD, and Chaos Group V-Ray. NVIDIA Case Study.
  • Northern Arizona University. Citrix XenDesktop and XenServer. NVIDIA vGPU. Dental devices with USB pass-through. Autodesk, ArcGIS, Google Earth. Dell Wyse thin-clients. Citrix Case Study. NVIDIA Blog
  • Roger Williams University. Citrix XenDesktop, XenServer, NVIDIA K2 GRID vGPU. R720 Dell Servers. Autodesk AutoCAD and Revit, Adobe Creative Suite. Architecture School. NVIDIA PDF;
  • Stevens Institute of Technology; Citrix XenServer, XenDesktop and XenApp; HP WS640c Gen8;  NVIDIA Quadro K3100M and GRID K1; Dassault Systèmes SolidWorks, Mathworks Matlab, and Adobe® Creative Suite®;  NVIDIA Case Study
  • St Lawrence Academy; Citrix XenDesktop and XenApp and XenServer. Dell PowerEdge R720. NVIDIA GRID K1. Adobe Creative Cloud. NVIDIA Case Study
  • Ufa State Aviation Technical University, Russia; Citrix XenServer and XenDesktop. IBM servers, Autodesk Inventor 2013, 3D Studio MAX 2014. NVIDIA GRID K2 GPU pass-through. NVIDIA Case Study;
  • Villanova University; Citrix XenDesktop + VMWare vSphere; NVIDIA vGPU GRID K1. Autodesk AutoCAD and SketchBook Designer, PTC Mathcad, MathWorks Matlab, Dassault Solidworks; NVIDIA Case Study;
  • York County School Division (VA); serving nearly 13,000 K-12 students, BYOD, streaming video/apps. How Virtualization and BYOD Help Students Learn Anywhere, Anytime — THE Journal

Education and VMware

  • Austin Community College. VMware Horizon and View and vSphere. Apple Macs. Thin-clients. Dell R720, NVIDIA GRID K1, Dell Wyse D10DP Thin-clients. General office and academic applications, streaming video, Google Hangouts. NVIDIA Case Study
  • Butler County Community College. Citrix XenDesktop and XenApp. VMware vSphere. SolidWorks, AutoDesk Building Design Suite, Adobe® Creative Cloud. Cisco B200 M3 and C240 M3. Wyse Xenith 1-3’s and old desktop PCs used as thin and zero clients. GRID K2 cards. NVIDIA Case Study.
  • Corona-Norco School District; Cisco UCS C-series; Nimble Storage CS700; NVIDIA GRID K1; Autodesk AutoCAD; BYOD support; VMware vSphere 6 and Horizon View 6.2; Cisco Case Study.
  • 4 Leading Colleges & Universities Transform Engineering Programs with VMware Horizon & NVIDIA GRIDVMware Case Studies including additional videos
  • Kempenhorst College; VMware Horizon View, vSPhere, vRealize and ThinApp; IBM Servers and blades. NVIDIA GRID; Applications including AutoCAD, Solidworks, Pinnacle; Samsung thin clients; Pure Storage SAN; Veeam Backup; Dutch Language VMware Case Study.
  • La Cité College, Canada; VMware vSphere, Horizon, ThinApp and vCloud; Autodesk Suite, AutoCAD Mechanical/Civil 3D, Architectural, Autodesk Revit, SketchBook, 3DS Max; PTC Creo 2; Mastercam CAD; Bentley Systems. Dell R720, NVIDIA GRID K1/K2; Dell Compellent storage. 1000 users (550 repurposed workstations; 450 Dell zero thin-clients). VMware Case Study. VMware Video.
  • Little Rock School District. VMware Horizon View and vSphere. Autodesk Inventor, RobotC, various web and Flash applications. NVIDIA GRID K2. Wyse P25 zero clients & Dell Chromebooks. NVIDIA Case Study.
  • Meridian Technology Centre. VMware Horizon View and vSphere. Dell R720, NVIDIA GRID K2. Autodesk Inventor and Revit, Google Earth. NVIDIA Case Study.
  • NC State University – VMware Horizon View, vSphere, High-availability, vMotion and Distributed Resource Scheduler; Dell servers; NVIDIA GPUs (vDGA and vSGA). Naval ROTC Training Simulator deployment for U.S Navy, SolidWorks, AutoCAD, and other products in the Autodesk portfolio for faculty and student projects including simulations and fluid dynamics. Security. VMware Case Study. End points include low-resource laptops and mobile.
  • UCS Viterbi School of Engineering; VMware Horizon View, vSphere; Dell R720 and R730; End-clients: Various desktop, laptop, and mobile devices; Thin and zero clients. NVIDIA GRID K1 and K2 GPUs; BYOD; Autodesk Maya® 2015, Dassault Systèmes SOLIDWORKS® 2015, Siemens PLM Solid Edge ST, NX Nastran and NX, and MSC Software Adams and Nastran. Autodesk AutoCAD, Revit, Civil 3D, Adobe® Creative Cloud® 2015, and MATLAB. CIO Insight Article; NVIDIA Case Study
  • UMMAS – University of Massachusetts Lowell; Dassault SolidWorks, Autodesk Moldflow and AutoCAD, Esri ArcGIS, Adobe Creative Cloud, ACD/ChemSketch, MathWorks MATLAB, and more than 70 others for engineering departments; BYOD access for Chromebook, iPad and any PC. NVIDIA GRID. VMware Horizon and vSphere and vApps. VMware Case Study; NVIDIA Video.
  • Villanova University; Citrix XenDesktop + VMWare vSphere; NVIDIA vGPU GRID K1. Autodesk AutoCAD and SketchBook Designer, PTC Mathcad, MathWorks Matlab, Dassault Solidworks; NVIDIA Case Study;

NVIDIA GRID and Microsoft Windows Server OSs and Hyper-V

Just a quick blog to clear up some FAQs on Microsoft Hyper-V support and NVIDIA GRID.

The GRID 4.1 release support matrix details support for Windows Server OSs. Windows Server OSs also include the Hyper-V role and support for the Hyper-V hypervisor.

Baremetal Support for Windows Server OSs

Bare metal (when a single version of an OS is installed directly on a server) is a popular choice for many customers especially those using RDSH remoting solutions such as Citrix XenApp. Some GRID cards e.g. M60, M10 carry multiple GPUs and Microsoft OSs are limited in their support for multiple GPUs on bare metal. GRID options do exist:

  • M6 support for Windows Server OSs – as the M6 (blade) GRID card has a single GPU this card is fully supported for baremetal use with the documented versions of Microsoft Server
  • Cards with multiple GPUs can be used with Windows Server OS but due to the current limitations
    • M60 / M10 are not supported as boot/primary device on Windows. NVIDIA support it as a secondary device, where some other GPU must be available as the primary. On OS earlier than Server 2012 / Windows 8, the primary GPU must have a vendor WDDM driver, otherwise the NVIDIA driver will not load. Any software / apps being run must be able to handle using non-primary GPUs; not all software does (AutoCAD < 2017, for example).
  • Older K1 / K2 cards are support as the primary device
    • In this scenario on a K1 card, one GPU will be the primary and the other GPUs will be available as secondaries to applications designed to leverage secondary GPUs e.g. RemoteFX is one such application.

Full details are given in the GRID support matrix:

DDA Support and Hyper-V

Deploying a hypervisor allows multiple copies (or even multiple OS varieties) to be installed on a server, each within its own VM. As such deploying a hypervisor allows GRID cards with multiple GPUs to be utilized whereby each VM can access a one of the GPUs available. NVIDIA and Hyper-V currently support only one physical GPU passed through per VM. So on a M60 card with 2 GPUs, two copies of Windows Server should be run to fully utilize the card with DDA.

DDA for Hyper-V is the equivalent of GPU pass-through/vDGA available for Citrix/VMware. Hyper-V support was introduced to Tesla passthough drivers in the R375 driver branch. DDA can be used to associate a VM running Windows Server OS with a GPU on a multi-GPU board.

With DDA (and similar PCIe passthrough technologies) the VM leverages the GPU vendors driver to get access to the native GPU drivers and capabilities such as support for the latest versions of OpenGL, DirectX, OpenCL, CUDA etc. The latest level of support for such technologies for the GRID supported Tesla GPU products such as M60, M10, M6 etc can be found in the vGPU user guide, see

Support for the Hyper-V role is included in the Windows Server support detailed in:

Direct Device Assignment (DDA) was new Windows Server 2016 Hyper-V feature enabling PCI-Express devices to be passed directly to a VM, specifically GPUs and NVMe storage devices. With DDA passing a GPU to a VM it enables the native GPU driver to be used within the VM and all capabilities of that driver such as DirectX 12 and CUDA (at the time of writing RemoteFX supports Direct11 but not 12). With DDA you cannot share the GPU between VMs, it is assigned directly to a specific VM; it is directly equivalent to GPU pass-through and vDGA on Citrix XenServer and VMware ESXi/vSphere. Additionally the guest must be Windows 10, Windows Server 2012 R2, Windows Server 2016 or a supported Linux distribution.

NVIDIA GRID Drivers for Hyper-V DDA

These can be obtained for the M6, M60 and M10 GRID cards via the customer login portal, see:


NVIDIA GRID licensing for Hyper-V DDA

This is the same as licensing for pass-through/vDGA on Citrix XenServer/VMware ESXi respectively (see: For passthrough VDI VMs on Citrix XenDesktop a vWs license is required, whilst when used with XenApp/RDSH solutions a per user vWS or vApp license is required depending upon whether Quadro features are needed (see my blog on the equivalent licensing for XenApp upon passthrough, see

Microsoft RemoteFX Support

The RemoteFX protocol is able to leverage GRID GPUs and can be used as an alternative to Citrix/VMware VDI access to VMs. Microsoft RemoteFX is currently licensed as a vPC feature vPC license per CCU, details can be found in NVIDIA GRID PACKAGING AND LICENSING GUIDE, when used without DDA.

Customers are also able to leverage RemoteFX in conjunction with Citrix VDI technologies although the Citrix HDX/ICA protocols are often more appropriat ein a Citrix environments. Customers looking to do this should consult Citrix Support for advice, see

RemoteFX’s use of GPUs is confusingly often called vGPU, this is completely different to NVIDIA GRID vGPU (which pertains to sharing a GPU between multiple VMs). The system requirements, DirectX support and limitations are detailed by Microsoft, see:

RemoteFX has been available for a long while on many legacy versions of Windows. Improvements in releases during 2016 included support for DirectX11, OpenGL 4.4, OpenCL 1.1, 4k resolution, and Windows Server virtual machines (see

RemoteFX vs DDA

There are a lot of user blogs and experience that might help you choose if RemoteFX or DDA is the most appropriate way to use a GPU for your licensing and application needs. E.g.:

As with all hypervisors pass-through/PCIe technologies such as DDA have limited hypervisor support for some features:

  • Monitoring from the hypervisor of the GPU is not possible, only in-guest
  • Features like High-availability, live snapshots, VM migration are not possible

Hardware Compatibility List

Microsoft publish a list of GPUs supported for use with Windows Server OS, customers should verify that the version of Windows Server OS they are using supports the use of the specific NVIDIA GPU they are using in the Windows Server Catalogue.

Customers should verify that their Server is certified for use with NVIDIA GRID to ensure support. The list of GRID supported servers can be found on the NVIDIA GRID web pages, here:

Citrix and Hyper-V

Citrix XenApp and XenDesktop both provide versions that support the use of Hyper-V as an alternative to other hypervisor options supported (such as VMware ESXi, Citrix XenServer, Nutanix Acropolis AHV) and Citrix XenApp supports the use of Windows Server OSs in bare metal scenarios. See the Citrix Support Matrix for details:

Microsoft Azure N-series

These VM’s from Azure leverage the Hyper-V DDA functionality. The demand has been significant and even in “available” regions there has been over-demand so availability may be limited. I’ve previously blogged about options to leverage this and some details for those wishing to including Citrix XenApp, and Teradici Cloud Access Software.

When using Azure N-series, customers should source the supported drivers via Azure and the process as documented by Microsoft for Azure.


Within minutes I started getting questions on twitter… so as it comes in I’ll add my best effort answers… ideally though post any questions in the comments below… twitter is not the easiest way to respond!

Q: So does support up to 64 sessions (M10)) on a XenApp VM with ?

A: There isn’t a session limit with XenApp GPU-sharing (this also applies to all pass-through technologies doing GPU-sharing). With 4 GPUs on an M10 you would use 4 Server OS VMs using DDA. The number of sessions allowed on each GPU is not limited by the technology but the raw GPU capacity and performance demands of the applications. Many XenApp users may find better densities using an M60 card, if you have lots of CAD/video/media users but for a boost to windows aero and 2D-apps I suspect the M10 could reach the densities you want. GPU-sharing densities were covered when this technology was first launched for XenApp on XenServer with pass-through (see