Windows Server 2012, VDI and nVidia GTX 650

So it has been a while since my last post.  Many interesting things have been going on, but, let’s chat about one of the more interesting technology develops I have been upto.

For years now, I have been a fan of VDI solutions.  I believe they offer customers the ability to significantly reduce spending on IT operations and maintenance for PC’s.  Of course, VDI removes the large “fat” PC at the desk, and replaces it with a “thin” client that uses backend server power to render the screen.

When I first got this working in 1997 with X11 and Linux, I thought it was very cool and interesting.  I have played with Citrix Metaframe back in 1999, and Windows NT Terminal Services Edition too.  That dates me doesn’t it?

Well, fast forward to 2012.  I wanted to take a oppourtunity to move my PC at home to a “thin” client infrastructure.  Using Windows Server 2012, Hyper-V and a Windows 7 VM of my desktop I gave it a try.  Things I can confirm,

  • RemoteFX DOES work with a GeForce GTX 650.  As advertised it does work worth with nVidia’s latest drivers (WDDM 1.2 DirectX 11), and Windows Server 2012.  I could not make this work with Windows Server 2008R2.
  • AMD Radeon 4870’s do not work with RemoteFX and Windows Server 2008R2 or Windows Server 2012.  Just too old and AMD calls this a “legacy” card.  Since this card is not DirectX 11, I expected it would not work with 2012, but not working with Windows Server 2008R2 was a bit f a surprise.
  • RemoteFX with a vGPU works for most applications.  I have a modern fully switched, enterprise-class network, and where the system faltered was on video.  Flash videos and Youtube HTML5.  While is works when you have it in a window, it does not work so well in full screen mode.  QuickTime videos, well, they play but there is a lot of tearing at 720p.

So for me, VDI at home is not quite ready for prime time.  Before anyone says “you just need more horsepower”, this was on a Xeon 1620 system with 32GB of RAM.  That should be more than enough to host one desktop with good performance.  Otherwise, performance was ok.

For my testing thin client testing, I borrowed a HP t610 Thin Client.  It works fabulously.  It is quiet, and you do not even notice it is running.  HP has a winner with that little machine.

Here is hoping SP1 for Windows Server 2012 improves the performance so I can try this again.  In the meantime, my desktop will stick on its high-fat diet.