Together with NVIDIA at their GPU Technology Conference (GTC) in San Jose, California, this morning we unveiled a technology platform for private and public clouds that combines NVIDIA’s new VGX™ virtual GPU technology with Citrix’s XenDesktop and XenServer hypervisor desktop virtualization solution. Sumit Dhawan, Citrix GM and VP, joined NVIDIA’s CEO Jen-Hsun Huang on stage at the GTC keynote to introduce this breakthrough technology for delivering 3D graphics from the cloud.

Applications and desktops are becoming increasingly graphical, so it is imperative that desktop virtualization systems provide cost-effective solutions for rendering and delivering 3D graphics with no compromise in user experience. And at Citrix, we well know that more and more employees are demanding access from non-traditional devices such as tablets and smartphones. Mobile workers need to use these devices to access data, video and more. And organizations want to keep the data and applications safe and manageable in the private cloud.

NVIDIA VGX™ GPU hardware virtualization extends GPU capability beyond power users like design engineers and radiologists to other workers in the organization who need access to large 3D models but don’t require the power of a dedicated graphics card. We’re aggressively working with NVIDIA to integrate VGX into the XenServer hypervisor and we’re looking forward to beginning joint beta trials of hardware-based vGPU before the end of this year.

Scalability of this new technology looks very promising. While GPU sharing has been available for some time with XenApp HDX 3D, it has been limited to DirectX-based applications compatible with Windows Server 2008 R2 Remote Desktop Services (RDS), with scalability of no more than 10 or 12 users per high-end graphics card. We expect our NVIDIA VGX-accelerated XenDesktop platform to be able to serve up to 100 users with a single multi-GPU graphics card, improving user density on a single server by an order of magnitude and slashing the cost of a 3D graphics capable virtualized PC to under $1,000. And this new solution offers unrestricted app compatibility since it runs standard Windows 7 virtual desktops and supports both DirectX and OpenGL based applications. VGX also improves interactivity by providing direct access to the GPU frame buffer. And it maintains high performance even with large 3D models since there is no need to transfer the data from the user session to another session (API intercept model).

Last week at Synergy in San Francisco, we announced a new release of XenDesktop HDX 3D Pro that is scheduled to ship at the end of June as part of XenDesktop 5.6 Feature Pack 1. This new release is the first solution on the market to leverage NVIDIA VGX™ for faster frame buffer access. XenDesktop 5.6 FP1 HDX 3D Pro provides a very responsive user experience, even over 1.5 Mbps T1 connections. And it is “vGPU ready”, meaning that it will be compatible with XenServer VGX-based GPU hardware virtualization when available. This opens up hardware-accelerated virtualized 3D professional graphics — both OpenGL and DirectX — and High Performance Computing applications to a large “second tier” of users who don’t necessarily need a dedicated GPU. The possibilities for leveraging this new technology are truly exciting!

Derek Thorslund
Director of Product Management, HDX