Citrix announced on Monday coming updates to their HDX remote desktop protocol including 3D rendering. Shortly thereafter, Brian Madded blogged on HDX 3D requirements, specifically that the back-end data center server that hosts the desktop VM requires an NVIDIA GPU that has CUDA capabilities. Fortunately, modern NVIDIA GPUs have the CUDA feature. Brian gives a good overview of HDX 3D in his blog is you need the background on what it is.
Dependency on NVIDIA GPU in the server. This point raised some questions: Servers don't do graphics, and to save $ - they don't include higher-end GPUs. Most include just a simple graphics chip on the motherboard. Since I'm at VMworld and had the opportunity to visit with Independent Hardware Vendors - I went to find out. Here's the answers I got from HP and Dell:
HP: HP will support you if you install an NVIDIA GPU adapter (PCIe) into a DL160 or DL165 rackmount 1U server only. While you can put an NVIDIA GPU in other HP rack mount server products, and it would most likely work, the company won't support you. That being said, however, HP will direct you to their workstation blade product line - a product specifically built for desktop virtualization purposes. Each blade in the workstation blade chassis includes an NVIDIA GPU pre-installed on a mezzanine board. But realize that for graphics intensive solutions, you are stuck to a 1:1 consolidation ratio of desktop to blade without virtualization as the GPU has yet to be virtualized by any hardware (I can suspect we will see this technology in the near future as the demand for desktop virtualization grows).
Dell: Dell is definitely behind the game here. Dell currently does not offer any rack or blade servers specifically designed for desktop virtualization - that include a GPU. The guys in the Dell booth at VMworld did tell me that they have a third party systems integrator that takes Dell blade products, adds the necessary GPU hardware and software and sells those to desktop virtualization customers, but the end product is supported by the partner and not Dell. The guys in the booth couldn't remember the name of the partner and 15 minutes of Googling didn't turn up any leads either.
Needless to say, the choices are indicative of a market in its infancy with HP in a clear lead. The next big step will be GPU virtualization.
[Posted by: Richard Jones]