NVIDIA GRID GPUs perfect for keeping up with the Raspberry Pi and the next generation of end points


Citrix have been making a fair bit of noise about their end-client (Receiver) being available and supported in-conjunction with partner ThinLinx on the Raspberry Pi, which with peripherals is proving a sub-$100 thin-client, capable of handling demanding graphics and frame rates (fps) of 30fps or more (YouTube is usually 30fps).

The Raspberry Pi and other low-cost end-points such as the Intel NUC are capable because they support hardware decode of protocols such as H.264 and JPEG used by HDX/ICA, they have SoC (system on a chip) hardware designed to handle graphics really very well.

There has been a lot of excitement in the industry and community, with traditional thin-clients typically costing $300-$600 the Pi offers potential cost savings but also the opportunity to use VDI/Application remoting (XenDesktop or XenApp) in scenarios where it wouldn’t have made financial sense.

There have been some stunning videos demonstrating the potential of this new class of low-cost endpoint such as:

And what do all these videos have in common – THEY WERE ALL RECORDED USING SERVERS BACKED BY NVIDIA GRID virtualized GPUs (vGPU or GPU-sharing via XenApp and GPU pass-through)! Because:

  • If you have effective hardware decode on the client you need your server to be able to keep up and pump out high frame rates and visual quality
  • With low cost clients virtualized (shared vGPU or XenApp GPU-sharing via passthrough) offers a cost effective way to boost the graphical power of the server without the need for a dedicated GPU per user

The Citrix Pi project highlights the power of using hardware encode and decode on GPUs. With the GPU able to take the brunt of the workload leading to:

  • Battery and power savings
  • The opportunity to offload server CPU for the protocol encode on the server boosting scalability, whilst Citrix only currently have hardware encode for their Linux VDA. With VMware Blast Extreme and NICE already offering it. The opportunity for NVIDIA GRID customers to see future value, as Citrix catches up, are there. The Pi project and VMware / NICE developments are vindication that this is where the industry is going – there are simply many tasks associated with virtualizing graphics that GPUs are best suited to.
  • Tests with blast extreme and NVENC shows up to 51ms lower latency on screen updates and lower CPU usage http://blogs.vmware.com/euc/2016/02/vmware-horizon-blast-extreme-acceleration-with-nvidia-grid.html so the potential for Citrix to emulate is clear.

Savings on the end-client costs is likely to change the balance of VDI deployment costs, allowing customers to invest more in the server data centre and freeing up budget for GPUs to access the user-experience improvements, benefits of consolidation and power savings. It really doesn’t make sense to have high-end workstations or PCs dotted around remote locations in use for a few hours a day for many customers anymore.

Once you get GPUs into a data centre, many sys admins report a reduction in costs associated with sluggish performance and  helpdesk calls. It’s not just high-end graphics benefit from GPU-acceleration but regular office applications, browsers and unified communications (Cisco Jabber, Skype, etc). You can read more here: https://www.virtualexperience.no/2015/11/05/mythbusting-browser-gpu-usage-on-xenapp/ and also here: https://www.citrix.com/blogs/2015/12/03/gpu-for-the-masses-with-xenappxendesktop/.

Exciting times! I somehow suspect we’ll see Citrix make (quite rightly) quite a bit of fuss over the Pi at their upcoming Synergy event! A performant end-client though needs to be fed by a performant server and NVIDIA GRID is a great match.

More Info:

Understanding Thin Clients for Citrix – Just Got A Whole Lot Easier!

CRHDXUpdate (5th/Jan/2016): Sagnik who ran this project has now published a comprehensive overview of the official information available from Citrix, including some tips on using the new database and enhanced search functionality – essential reading – click here.

I’ve recently left Citrix and was pleased to see some of the projects that I worked on as Linux Receiver Product Manager come to fruition which have been a long time in the making. The Linux Receiver is quite different to many of the Citrix Receivers in that: Continue reading Understanding Thin Clients for Citrix – Just Got A Whole Lot Easier!

Understanding Citrix Ready Certification and Thin Client Performance

Update (27/12/2015) – Citrix Ready Thin-Client Certification Improved: https://virtuallyvisual.wordpress.com/2015/12/27/understanding-thin-clients-for-citrix-just-got-a-whole-lot-easier/

t5630-hdxA few days ago a user (Vikash Jhagroe) posted this blog about the Citrix Ready HDX Certification program. This is in fact something the Citrix Ready team are looking to re-design to clear up the confusing current situation. Vikash has to some extent done a good job of explaining the situation, the information on-line is out of date (awaiting the Citrix Ready redesign) and there is a fair bit of background missing. When partial information becomes common knowledge, I usually find it’s best to be straight with users and give them all the facts.

Continue reading Understanding Citrix Ready Certification and Thin Client Performance

Did I really see a $165 Thin Client doing 55fps+ with Borderlands 2 with HDX 3D Pro, Citrix XenDesktop?

demophotoBack in May 2015, at Citrix’s Synergy 2015, I was involved with an HDX demo at Citrix Synergy 2015, the remit was pretty simple – to show really good HDX 3D Pro frame rates, good enough to satisfy gamers, on low-cost hardware using ONLY existing, shipping-today, fully-supported production ready products. We also want to show that HDX 3D Pro can run really w Continue reading Did I really see a $165 Thin Client doing 55fps+ with Borderlands 2 with HDX 3D Pro, Citrix XenDesktop?