Whether you’re attending Citrix Synergy or have read other Citrix blogs or industry related news, by now you’ve probably heard a lot about our announcements on Citrix XenClient 2 tech preview and Citrix XenClient XT.  Through the announcements, you’re also hearing a bit about Intel technologies, specifically Intel vPro and might be asking yourself how Citrix XenClient leverages the capabilities of Intel vPro technology.

Even if you think you know the answer, since we’re now expanding the HCL for XenClient by 3x, you might want to learn a little more. For example, you might be surprised to know that with the release of the 2nd Generation Intel® Core™ vPro™ processor family there have been several advancements in how XenClient and vPro technology work together.

Consider yourself forewarned…I’m not technical, but am playing the role of a technical person in this blog…

As you already know, Citrix and Intel have worked together in the development of Citrix XenClient. XenClient was built from the start to utilize the powerful capabilities of Intel vPro technology. We have continued to work together to enable and optimize the XenClient 2 tech preview for the 2nd Generation Intel® Core™ vPro™ processor family. XenClient XT now takes it a step further by incorporating the additional hardware security benefits of Intel’s Trusted Execution Technology (TXT) to provide a verified platform on every boot.

As Peter Blum mentioned in his blog earlier this year, XenClient’s bare metal architecture is designed not only to put as little code as possible between the VMs and the bare metal but it’s also optimized to offload as much as possible to the underlying Intel hardware. XenClient puts the advancements in Intel’s 2nd Generation Core vPro Processors to work so the performance gets passed right up to the Windows VMs running on top of it.

XenClient 2 tech preview takes advantage of Intel Virtualization Technology (VT) which is composed to two technologies – VT-x and VT-d.

  • VT-x enables OS virtualization by providing CPU virtualization support and is required by to run VMs running the Windows operating system.
  • VT-d accelerates graphics performance by providing a VM access to Intel graphics hardware. The 2nd Generation Core vPro processors deliver 2x the performance of previous generation Intel Core processors. The direct graphics access architecture in XenClient powered by Intel VT-d technology means that all of this powerful graphics capability gets passed up directly to a Windows VM running on top of the system.

Building upon the above XenClient XT takes our work with Intel to the next level. XenClient incorporates the additional hardware security benefits of Intel’s Trusted Execution Technology (TXT) to provide a verified platform on every boot. In addition, Intel has updated AES-NI on the chipset to offload encryption to the hardware and XenClient takes advantage of these additional levels of encryption. Here’s some additional detail:

  • Intel TXT lets the hardware verify the integrity of the hypervisor and its support components on every boot so that the hypervisor becomes part of the trusted compute base. In laymen’s terms, it means that the Intel technology tests the system’s integrity every time the computer is powered up and it makes sure the system hasn’t been compromised before providing access to the virtual machine.
  • AES (Advanced Encryption Standard) is an encryption standard adopted by the U.S. government starting in 2001. AES-NI (Advanced Encryption Standard – New Instructions) accelerates data encryption and provides performance improvement and improved security. With the 2nd Generation Intel Core vPro Processors, Intel has given AES-NI a big performance boost which translates into less overhead required to fully protect corporate data.

Well, that’s a not-so-brief introduction in a nutshell. As you can see, there’s a lot going on with Citrix and Intel, more specifically Citrix XenClient and Intel vPro technology. Learn more about XenClient 2 tech preview and XenClient XT by visiting http://www.citrix.com/XenClient or check out Intel VP, Rick Echevarria’s blog.