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Thin Client and Virtual Machines Thread, RemoteFX backend for thin clients? in Technical; Does anyone know if RemoteFX is suitable for use as a general multimedia accelerator for Remote Desktop sessions? After reading ...
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    morganw's Avatar
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    RemoteFX backend for thin clients?

    Does anyone know if RemoteFX is suitable for use as a general multimedia accelerator for Remote Desktop sessions? After reading about it I thought it was but then I've also read about Citrix integrating it into their HDX system, wouldn't that be overlapping similar technologies? Or is RemoteFX meant to be more focused on 3D acceleration?

    At the moment we've dipped a toe into thin clients with 16 XenApp licenses, I'm wandering whether it's worth trying a similar kind of deployment with RemoteFX instead. I can't see anywhere that says RemoteFX costs anything extra on top of the standard Remote Desktop CALs so it would work out a lot cheaper if it can handle the usual flash websites.

    Anyone else considering something like this?

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    SYNACK's Avatar
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    The benifit of RemoteFX is that it uses serverside 3D acceleration and so you can use lower spec clients that have an RDP client that supports RDP7 (not linux yet). Given the way it renders stuff on the server and the already robust protocols in 2008 R2 is whould be good for most media (consuming). You do need (as far as I know) workstation CAD type GPUs like nvidia Quadro cards in your servers to handle this though as these are much more tested and reliable than the consumer grade ones (apparently, but not from my experience).

    You are right that it does not need anything more than RDP cals and they are apparently releasing a really thin version of Windows 7 free for VL customers so that they can upgrade compatible thin clients to be able to support it fully.

    I am looking at this with great interest for our MPS servers but hopeing that they drop the CAD card restriction which seems a little like profiteering collusion to me at the moment.

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    3s-gtech's Avatar
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    Main difference with workstation GPUs is pixel precision and image quality, and better OpenGL performance. The drivers are usually more stable and mature. For this job though, I suspect desktop cards will do fine, as long as they have enough power. Not sure where you'd get the 6 and 8 pin PCI-E connectors from for additional power inside the server though, not usually spare molex connectors sitting around!

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    Quote Originally Posted by morganw View Post
    Does anyone know if RemoteFX is suitable for use as a general multimedia accelerator for Remote Desktop sessions?
    Short answer is yes...

    What can it do?
    Anything! Well, from a display perspective at least. This is the really cool part. Since to the virtual desktop and its applications it appears that a “normal” GPU is available, almost all content can be rendered. RemoteFX is like a catch-all. Basically all kinds of “desktop content” can be viewed in near full fidelity in your virtual desktop.

    For reference, these are examples of content that currently aren’t able to be delivered in full fidelity in today’s RDP version (7.0):

    • Flash
    • Silverlight
    • HTML5
    • Non-Windows Media format movies (many QuickTime movies still won’t play, for example)
    • 3D applications

    RemoteFX solves all that... if you have the bandwidth. Again, because it is catch-all you can deliver almost any content type using RemoteFX. Think of content like this:

    • Office 2010
    • Full Aero desktop experience
    • Flash
    • Silverlight
    • HTML5
    • Any media format you can think of
    • 3D applications


    What’s less cool?
    Of course RemoteFX isn’t the most brilliant thing since the seedless watermelon but it is pretty darn close! There are a couple of characteristics – I would not call them drawbacks – which you have to be aware of though:

    • LAN only. Out of the box RemoteFX is a LAN technology only. Period. Microsoft is not being vague or secretive about this. Without a 10 Mbps of network bandwidth and latencies above 20ms it is not recommended to use RemoteFX. As is common, Microsoft points to the (software) RemoteFX partners for more than this out of the box functionality. Quest has announced that vWorkspace is slated to extend the reach of RemoteFX beyond the LAN within 30 days of the shipping date of Service Pack 1 (Brian Madden has published a preview of this). Similarly, Citrix (Harry Labana) has announced that they will be supporting RemoteFX approximately 6 months after Service Pack 1 ships.
    • Need for a GPU. You need a GPU in the Hyper-V host. Remember this is not just any GPU you get at your local geekshop – you need a server-class GPU with at least 1 GB of (V)RAM. Depending on your use case, you might even need more VRAM and/or more GPUs. The actual VRAM could be as low as 75 MB or greater than 200, depending on the resolutions in your VM. These guys don’t come cheap either but are expected to drop in price over time. The good news is that RemoteFX supports multiple GPUs in one server (provided they are the same). RemoteFX also supports so-called external “GPU Appliances”.
    • (Possibly) no 7.1 RDP Client for Windows XP. This article was written based on the beta of RemoteFX which includes RDC 7.1 for Vista and Windows 7 but not retail XP. At TechEd Microsoft could not say whether there would be a 7.1 RDP Client for Windows XP.
    • No OpenGL. Well, I said that RemoteFX could deliver almost any content type. Not all. OpenGL is an example of this. Because the RemoteFX 3D display adapter driver in the virtual desktop is based on DirectX, it will not support OpenGL apps beyond what Windows natively supports.
    • Hyper-V R2 SP1 only. You cannot use any other hypervisor than Hyper-V R2 SP1. Although it is pretty clear why Microsoft is doing this some people might perceive this to be a disadvantage of RemoteFX.
    • Windows 7 SP1 only. Windows 7 SP1 is the only supported Guest OS (the virtual desktop) if you want to use the user experience enhancements of RemoteFX.
    (Source)
    Quote Originally Posted by morganw View Post
    I've also read about Citrix integrating it into their HDX system, wouldn't that be overlapping similar technologies?
    From the same website as the quote above...

    A question that I get a lot as well is if I think if RemoteFX will replace all other remote display protocols such as Quest EOP or Citrix HDX. I think RemoteFX will not replace these protocols. Even though there is some overlap – in particular, RemoteFX is similar to Citrix HDX 3D Pro – Microsoft has created an ecosystem around RemoteFX that allows for partners to embrace and extend RemoteFX. It is much more likely that RemoteFX will be supported by protocols from these, and other, vendors, who will continue to extend and enhance Microsoft’s Remote Desktop platforms.

  5. 2 Thanks to Arthur:

    altecsole (3rd June 2011), morganw (15th February 2011)

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    morganw's Avatar
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    I hope the GPU isn't required to make it go, I'm not looking for 3D acceleration or a full 'this is your personal Windows 7 VM' style VDI system, just decent multimedia acceleration of everything that is more cost effective than XenApp.

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    SYNACK's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by morganw View Post
    I hope the GPU isn't required to make it go, I'm not looking for 3D acceleration or a full 'this is your personal Windows 7 VM' style VDI system, just decent multimedia acceleration of everything that is more cost effective than XenApp.
    To use RemoteFX, yea you do need the server side 3D support, thats kind of the point.

    To use standard RDP7 from a 2008 R2 server which will handle video (wmv, xvid, h264) and sound smoothly no, you just need thinclients that support RDP7 so your average *nix based TC is out unless you upgrade it with the thin Windows version.

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    morganw's Avatar
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    Is there any information anywhere on a thin version of Windows 7?

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    SYNACK's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by morganw View Post
    Is there any information anywhere on a thin version of Windows 7?
    Microsoft readies locked-down Windows 7 Thin PCs | ZDNet
    Windows 7 updates deliver more bang for your buck

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    localzuk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by morganw View Post
    I hope the GPU isn't required to make it go, I'm not looking for 3D acceleration or a full 'this is your personal Windows 7 VM' style VDI system, just decent multimedia acceleration of everything that is more cost effective than XenApp.
    The point is, its the graphics card which does the acceleration, even on desktops. Hence the need for the GPU.

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    I thought there was a CPU-only acceleration option as well for servers without the GPU?

    Realistically though who has graphics cards in their current kit? Could be a while before we all refresh our hardware to take advantage of it. Also seems like MS aren't going to go the whole hog with VDI as they don't want to step on the toes of Citrix (seems like there's a mutually beneficial agreement going on there)

    I was looking at RemoteFX as one of the reasons for going down the Hyper-V route rather than VMware but I'm not sure that on its own is enough to make me go for it against VMWare's simpler configuration and reliability...
    Last edited by gshaw; 16th February 2011 at 10:21 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by gshaw View Post
    Realistically though who has graphics cards in their current kit?
    The dl380 g5s we have, have a coupe of pci-e 8x slots free which should take some workstation grade cards if required. No more hassle than a new NIC.

    CPU accelleration is probably unlikely as GPU stuff scales horribly on CPU.
    Last edited by SYNACK; 16th February 2011 at 10:38 AM.

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    Ye I'd imagine it wouldn't do too well as software-only. Question with the graphics cards is getting sufficiently powerful ones in half height cards, although I'm guessing once manufacturers see the demand they'll fill the gap in the market.

    Have to admit I'm still trying to figure out what Microsoft are doing with VDI, on one hand they show ways of providing an MS-only VDI infrastructure but then on the other there doesn't seem to be full on management \ provisioning as you'd need for a large scale deployment. How far are they going to go with it I wonder?

    Quick straw poll then, would RemoteFX tempt you to go down the Hyper-V route if you were choosing what virtualisation software to put on your hosts for a new project? Or could it be the case of keeping your servers on VMWare and putting new hosts in for VDI with Hyper-V?
    Last edited by gshaw; 16th February 2011 at 11:41 AM.

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    VMware all the way with servers and Citrix for the desktop - the licenses are cheap cheap now - we have it here.

    MS isnt as mature yet - steer away if possible.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SYNACK View Post
    The dl380 g5s we have, have a coupe of pci-e 8x slots free which should take some workstation grade cards if required.
    I've been having a look around for PCI-E 8x cards, I can only really find 16x (and from the looks of the slot/cards there's no chance we could stick the 16x card in the 8x slot). Anyone know of any decent workstation type cards in the 8x format? Otherwise this may be the downfall of this idea here.

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    localzuk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by paul121 View Post
    VMware all the way with servers and Citrix for the desktop - the licenses are cheap cheap now - we have it here.

    MS isnt as mature yet - steer away if possible.
    Citrix is by no means 'cheap cheap', nor is VMWare licensing! It is in fact 'bleeding expensive'... Microsoft stuff is included in the price of your server license for Hyper-V and RDP. So if it works, why pay more?

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