At Citrix Synergy in May, those in attendance saw a game-changing demo during the keynote.

On stage NVIDIA CEO Jen-Hsun Huang and Citrix CEO Mark Templeton showed virtualized access to a class of high performance graphics intensive applications which haven’t previously been considered virtualization friendly. The platform consisted of XenDesktop 7 with HDX 3D Pro, XenServer with vGPU support and NVIDIA GRID K2.

Since then we’ve been running a private beta with a range of customers and partners across a multiple industries including defence, CAD, CAE, education; optimising the technologies for demanding, graphically intensive software and applications. Progress has been impressive and today we are now setting a date for the public tech preview such that all customers can prepare.

If you’re looking to get started with virtualized Windows VDI with high performance graphics, start planning today because you’ll be able to run a tech preview yourselves next month. Here’s what you’ll need:

  1. XenDesktop 7 deployed with XenServer 6.2. Both of these pieces you can obtain today, and on September 27th we will release a tech preview add-on pack with the technologies to fully enable vGPU access for Windows desktop VDI workloads, extending our high performance GPU sharing capabilities beyond Windows Server RDS workloads. When you look at the combined solution you’ll find there are some immediate benefits.  The most notable is that with the combined solution applications interact directly with NVIDIA drivers, not hypervisor drivers.This means greater application compatibility, and greater performance with large 3D models.  Plus it doesn’t hurt that we’re able to natively support the latest versions of both DirectX and OpenGL out of the box. This will be true hardware vGPU with professional graphics performance benefits differentiating it from software vGPU and API intercept technologies such as Remote FX and vSGA which address less demanding 3D use cases like Aero effects and PowerPoint slide transitions
  2. Servers capable of running the NVIDIA GRID K1 or K2 cards. We’ve been working with the major hardware vendors and NVIDIA to bring a new generation of servers optimised for these technologies to market, multi-slot servers capable of supporting NVIDIAs best GPUs . Only a year ago Boeing’s engineers were dedicating a single server to a one user, today the possibilities got a whole lot wider.  Here are some server options to start with, and others do exist.

These new servers will support up to 12 GPUs, and with multiple users sharing each GPU, we expect these servers to support tens if not hundreds of users. Bringing the cost of ownership of a GPU enabled desktop within the range of entirely new markets and applications

Yes folks, it really is that simple.  But will your applications run in this new model? That’s where the joint efforts between the NVIDIA and XenServer engineers really shine.  Using XenServer vGPU capabilities, applications interact with an NVIDIA driver directly, not a XenServer one.  That means application vendors don’t need to recertify their applications to run with both NVIDIA and Citrix display adapters to leverage the power of XenDesktop 7 with high performance graphics.  Once certified with an NVIDIA driver, users can have every confidence that their applications will also work when accessed remotely via XenDesktop

Update: The tech preview is now live. More details can be found in this announcement.