One of the most impressive demos you will see at Synergy 2014 in Anaheim is our new Framehawk technology, currently being integrated into the HDX stack used by XenApp, XenDesktop and Citrix Receiver. As I highlighted in my blog post when we acquired Framehawk, people are no longer chained to their desks in the office where they have a highly reliable wired network connection. We’re in a mobile world and the mobile worker is faced with variable and often poor wireless network connection quality as a result of electromagnetic interference, spectral congestion and other factors. High packet loss, overburdening and high latency are not unusual in urban environments such as office towers where many wireless networks are competing for spectrum and interfering with each other. 5-10% packet loss is not unusual even when stationary and it easily can jump to 20% if you’re moving around, due to dead spots and interference patterns. And public Wi-Fi is often even worse.

The Framehawk innovations take a human-centric approach to dealing with hostile broadband wireless network conditions, resulting in a remarkable up-leveling of the mobile user experience. Traditionally, the server and the client have a strong relationship to reproduce graphics and the user has to wait until they finish their conversation; if you send a scroll gesture on your iPad or Android tablet, you have to wait for the screen to finish painting before you regain control.  Framehawk, however, puts the user first. Imagine an approach where the user owns the interaction and the computer is forced to adjust.  To accomplish this, Framehawk employs a human heuristic-driven graphics display system; the user decides the pace and interaction, and the graphics stream adapts through an innovative interruptible graphics layer that maintains a real-time display regardless of network conditions. Framehawk can even handle those really bad days when packet loss exceeds 40% and roundtrip latency hits 250 milliseconds or more!

How does it work? Framehawk has a “human eye” (image recognition technology) inside the computer service that distinguishes different types of screen content the way a human does, and it gives the user the ability to interrupt immediately. So the user can switch scrolling direction at any time with no delay. Framehawk’s “analog” algorithms will give users a better sense of responsiveness and smoothness when scrolling through documents or viewing photos or videos. Framehawk includes a next gen QoS signals amplifier plus a time-based heat map for finer grained and more efficient identification of workloads like text and scrolling. The Framehawk algorithms intelligently distinguish between different types of packet loss; for example, random loss (send more data to compensate) versus congestion loss (don’t send more data since the channel is clogged). And by measuring tension on the network connection (analogous to the tension on a bicycle chain), the Framehawk logic can react more quickly, providing a superior experience over high latency connections. This unique gearing system provides constant up-to-date feedback on network conditions, allowing Framehawk to react immediately to changes in bandwidth, latency and loss.

But there’s no need to understand the details of the technology; what matters is that it really makes a difference, dramatically improving the user experience for mobile workers on difficult network connections. So be sure to visit the HDX demo pods in the Solutions Expo hall at Synergy 2014 for a preview of this amazing new HDX technology!

Derek Thorslund
Director of Product Management, HDX