This morning at Synergy we are announcing the immediate availability of an exciting Tech Preview of new HDX technologies available to existing XenDesktop and XenApp customers under Subscription Advantage. (Available Here!)

Enabling our customers to work from anywhere with any device, from branch offices to personal clouds is embedded into the DNA of Citrix. Over the past 18 months, Citrix has been hard at work optimizing the HDX stack, from protocol to WAN optimization and network QoS technologies, to improve the end user experience while reducing overhead for servers and networks to reduce the cost of virtual desktop deployments. As a result, every technology within HDX, from RealTime, to Broadcast to 3Dpro is expanding use cases for desktop virtualization across the enterprise.

Highlights of the HDX tech preview include:

No-compromise multi-tasking-

When living the virtual lifestyle accessing your desktop, apps, and data on the go, or in a remote office, the typical user is juggling lots of activities. They may be placing VoIP calls, transferring data, sending off a document to the printer or watching videos all at the same time. To handle the intense demands of todays desktop users Citrix has architected the HDX stack for extreme multi-tasking.

  • New High Performance Citrix Receiver – First, new High Performance, multi-threaded Citrix Receivers will be available that parallel process tasks eliminating potential bottlenecks. These receivers can process data up to 300% faster enabling fast file transfers and printing without disrupting heavy multimedia or realtime voice performance.
  • Multi-Stream ICA Navigating difficult network conditions is in the DNA of Citrix. The ICA protocol has long had virtual channels that enable prioritization of different types of traffic to get the absolute best performance given available bandwidth and latency. Now, the ICA protocol can be divided into 5 separate network streams enabling network administrators to prioritize virtual desktop traffic types along side the rest of the network traffic to deliver enterprise grade Quality of Service. Multi-Stream ICA divides virtual desktop traffic into RealTime, Interactive, Bulk, Background, and UDP/RTP Voice streams that can be individually monitored and managed by standard QoS networking tools.

Crystal clear voice and video-

For years there has been an apparent conflict between desktop transformation strategies and desktop-based telephony and Telepresence. While CIOs have seen the value of each trend, the quality limitations of voice over virtual desktops has been a roadblock to widespread adoption. But no longer! HDX RealTime has addressed the disparity of voice and virtual desktops. Voice has been given its own RTP channel that reduces latency and improves call quality, while an enhanced Jitter buffer and echo cancellation has been added to ensure call quality through a wide range of peripherals. The HDX PlugnPlay stack has also seen improvements to offer a native device experience so that users can plug in a USB headset or microphone and speakers and get the same controls and overall user experience as a local PC. Finally, Citrix is working with the leading providers of Enterprise telepresence solutions with an SDK that enables native audio processing further reducing latency and enabling full interoperability with advanced call controls and CTI apps.

Rich graphics experience

HDX MultiMedia – Perhaps the biggest area that separates HDX from competitors is the ability to leverage client or server side resources intelligently for quality and scale.

  • HDX MultiMedia now includes Adaptive Display. This feature dynamically measures network, client, and server conditions to tune the delivery of multimedia content on the fly. When available, HDX will redirect multimedia content to be rendered on the client, when client rendering is not available, rendering will fall back to the server, but compression and frame rates will be adjusted on the fly to keep multimedia playback smooth. Most importantly, this is all done without administrator or user intervention. It just works.
  • Client-side graphics redirection- HDX is also getting more intelligent when handling graphics. When possible, allowing hardware accelerators (GPUs) to do the heavy lifting of rich display rendering takes burden off of the server and network. Redirecting GDI+ graphics commands allows complex gradients, shadings, and transparencies to be handled on the end point greatly improving the visual experience and responsiveness of office productivity applications while actually reducing average bandwidth consumption of a knowledge worker by as much as 33%. This also reduces the load on the server, further reducing cost of deployment. Graphics redirection doesnt stop there. HDX can also now handle DirectX9 command redirection to a wide range of Windows devices that enables popular Aero glass and flip effects.
  • RemoteFX support Another way to leverage hardware acceleration for a rich desktop experience is to place a GPU in the server to offload graphics rendering from the processor. Microsoft RemoteFX, enabled through Windows Server 2008R2 SP1 and Windows HyperV R2 SP1 enables this server-side GPU acceleration and is supported through XenDesktop. Customers will be able to setup an RDP channel to access a desktop enabled by RemoteFX through their XenDesktop infrastructure. Working together, Microsoft and Citrix are innovating to provide the best user experience for use cases across the enterprise.

Advanced branch and cloud acceleration

You may have noticed a common theme by now, but desktop transformation is about far more than PC replacement. To enable virtual workstyles to respond to the consumerization of IT you hear about every day, desktop virtualization cannot have boundaries. This HDX tech preview will highlight advances in HDX WAN Optimization leveraging the new Branch Repeater 6 release as well as optimizations within the HDX technology stack such as Multi-stream ICA discussed previously. An example of this work has been to extend Flash Redirection to latencies of up to 300 milliseconds, the equivalent of networks crossing the Pacific for global reach. This second-generation Flash redirection technology once again takes the load off of servers and redirects the highly compressed Flash content to the endpoint where it can be rendered and displayed smoothly with native audio/video synchronization. However, to truly address Quality of Service, network administrators need to understand and prioritize all of the traffic on the network. While Multi-stream ICA now provides far more granularity to network administrators, what about the rest of the traffic going to a remote office? Branch Repeater 6 with SmartAcceleration goes beyond ports and actually recognizes profiles, patterns, and applications providing unprecedented control over remote deployment QoS.