Performance without the Price Tag: Using RDP and RemoteFX for Graphics-Intense Workloads On-Prem and in Azure

Performance without the Price Tag: Using RDP and RemoteFX for Graphics-Intense Workloads On-Prem and in Azure

As enterprises move away from traditional full-stack VDI and trend towards deconstructed VDI, IT professionals are faced with new challenges when designing a solution that fits all their users’ needs and workflows.  

One of the most often over looked component is the display protocol, which is essential for delivering the performance your end users require and, ultimately, the success and user acceptance of your VDI initiative. After agonizing over CPUs and GPUs, IT professionals are often surprised to learn that their use case still requires them to purchase a high-performance display protocol from a third-party vendor, rather than simply using the display protocol included with their client OS.

 

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However, this may no longer be the case!  Advancements in RDP and RemoteFX now make them viable options for a variety of workloads, including graphics-intense workloads. Even better, with the GPU capabilities unique to Azure, they are a perfect pairing for enterprises or MSPs looking to leverage the public cloud for HPC.

 

What is RDP?

 

When we think of how our average Windows laptop connects to a virtual machine, we are most often thinking of RDP. RDP is the Microsoft remote desktop display protocol included in every version off Windows from XP onward. It was originally introduced by Microsoft as part of Terminal Services, available in Windows NT 4.0  Server. It was designed to allow user to remote in and control desktop over a network as well as allow multiple user logins to a single virtual machine session thereby maximizes resource utility and promoting user collaboration.

Later version of RDP offered support for local printers, USB redirection, improved bandwidth usage and support for 24-bit color and sounds. Remote Desktop Services was born!

 

 

RDP and DDA

 

The 2016 release of RDS includes an exciting new development for RDP – DDA! DDA stands for direct device assignment. That means that a physical graphics GPU can be assigned to a specific virtual machine. This means you can use the IHV graphics-driver to run a whole new variety of graphics-intense apps on virtual machine! Multiple sessions of either terminal servers or virtual machines can share the graphics-driver GPUs, increasing hardware utility while providing task workers with an “at desk” user experience in their desktop as well as their favorite apps.

 

What is RemoteFX?

 

While RDP is great for task workers, where performance often lacks is in the high-performance computing and graphics-intense space. To meet these computing demands, Microsoft offers RemoteFX. RemoteFX is essentially a dressed up version of RDP which provides an enhanced user experience. It is included in all version OS of Windows Sever 2008 R2 and onward.

RemoteFX is a layer on top of RDP that provides the host-side rendering, GPU virtualization, and intelligent screen capture for improved rendering and compression. However, because it is built on RDP, it offers the same key ingredients for a successful VDI deployment including shared encryption, authentication, management, and device support.

 

RemoteFX and OpenGL/OpenCL

 

The latest version of RemoteFX, included with Windows Sever 2016, includes support of Open GL 4.4. Open GL is the key ingredient for running graphics-intense programs such as Photoshop and CAD in a virtual environment. Previously, running a VM on Hyper-V limited the user to Open Gl 1.1 with CPU accelerations without support for OpenCL. This limited users delivering desktops with applications such as Photoshop, which relies on OpenCL for certain features. The latest version of RemoteFX includes enhancements in support for OpenGL and OpenCL, providing an “at-desk” experience for graphics-intense applications. 

 

 

Offering High-performance protocols doesn’t have to break the bank! With the latest advancements in RDP and RemoteFX, along with a wide variety of free and open source options – graphics-intense VDI has never been more affordable. Learn more by contacting sales@leostream.com 

 

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