XenApp, XenDesktop and XenServer with Intel Xeon with Iris Pro Graphics powered by the HPE Moonshot m710x!

Designing the right solution to solve business and technical challenges can sometimes feel like you’re on a treasure hunt. In the IT world, the treasure you seek is often considered to be the one complete, all-up platform that can enable an architect to mine and create a single golden solution that can be leveraged for any challenge that comes their way. If you feel like you’ve tried to follow other vendor’s maps and just wind up walking the plank, well, now, you’re in luck.

At Citrix Synergy 2016, Intel, HPE and Citrix demonstrated complex 3D engineering applications delivered through the cloud on the new Intel® Xeon® processor E3-1500 v5 featuring Intel’s most advanced graphics processor, Intel® Iris™ Pro Graphics P580 and running on HPE’s Moonshot Server m710x cartridge. How is this platform unlike any other previous Moonshot solution? The answer is X.

Here’s what I mean.

The new HPE Moonshot m710x offers a significant graphics performance improvement—up to 30%—from its predecessor the m710p. The HPE m710x also simplifies deployment of any solution with a full HPE iLO remote console. So, deploying any operating system for a Citrix workload solution is just flat-out simple.

If you combine new hardware and management enhancements, along with the Citrix XenDesktop 7.9 release and Intel’s new chipset, you have the ability to create a truly versatile solution that is a one of a kind and in a league of its own. Now, every Citrix subscriber has the opportunity to have Citrix HDX 3D Pro graphics-enabled for any Citrix workload with this new solution!

In order to better understand how these new breakthrough innovations work let’s look at four key parts of this solution in more detail.

First, the new HPE Moonshot m710x management interface is the not like its forefathers. This new, powerful cartridge varies in many ways. Up ’til now, every Moonshot cartridge used a headless deployment method, so the challenge of keeping your head while deploying headless was always interesting, especially for those in IT that had never deployed headless.

If you’re an old desktop support guy like me and you recall tools like Symantec Ghost, or the dark days of SMS, this was just a blast from the past for deploying headlesss. For those whose virtualization skillset started with hypervisor consoles, it could be challenging, to say the least. HPE did a great job and worked on improving the IT administrator’s management experience and it shows.

The new m710x has a full HPE iLO 4 remote console interface which allows you to deploy ANY operating system like Windows 10, Windows 2012R2 and even XenServer, while using a simple GUI console that allows you to mount ISOs just like other HPE server platforms. This new enhanced management solution is enabled out-of-the-box on the m710x and it just works! The need for ESD tools such as WDS, SCCM, MDT, Altiris, and so forth are no longer required to land your first golden image.

In minutes, you can enable a bare-metal XenApp server or XenDesktop machine using the new iLO 4 remote console. With that in mind there may be scenarios where you may deploy dozens of cartridges and leveraging those ESD tools makes lots of sense so keep that mind. Hopefully, if you’re deploying bare-metal Windows machines to the m710x, then you’re leveraging Citrix Provisioning Services for single golden image management ,as it’s a massive time-saver and is a best practice for Moonshot.

For additional debugging purposes, a mini display port is accessible on each m710x to gain direct monitor access. If there is a need for USB level boot or peripherals, a port is available as well.

To access the new ILO4 on the m710x cartridge, simply type in the IP address of the chassis manager and login. Note: You may need to be on the latest Moonshot firmware prior to access the ILO features. Please refer to the HPE Moonshot site for information.

Second, is the new m710x cartridge hardware. This is definitely not your daddy’s Moonshot cartridge. The new m710x packs a massive amount of compute, memory, graphics and storage all in a single cartridge.

Let’s look more at each of the hardware components.

The new m710x is powered by Intel’s latest chipset codename “Skylake,” which is now known as the E3 Intel® Xeon® processor E3-1500 v5, featuring Intel’s most advanced graphics processor, Intel® Iris™ Pro Graphics P580. This new chipset packs a 3.0 GHz socket with up 4 cores and 8 threads, which enables processing of high intense applications at blazing fast speeds. Memory has also increased in the m710x, which now provides up to 64gb of DDR ECC RAM which is a 2x improvement over the m710p and m710.

Networking is very similar to the m710p series with 2 10gb nics being the standard, however these cartridges can be intermixed to run at slower 1gb speeds using the new HPE moonshot 45XGC switching firmware or when mixed in with the 180G switches. Take a look at the HPE Moonshot switching tech specs for more information. Storage is substantially different.

The m710x allow for up to four NVME drives and one SATA DOM drive. This means that building solutions like Windows Server with Storage Spaces, XenServer with Atlantis, or HPE VSA on Windows 2012R2 with Hyper-V, are now possible. HPE is also still offering a VSA promotion  with purchase of any Intel Xeon based server from any vendor. This deal is valid for up 1TB storage per node and up to 3 nodes in a single cluster.

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For more information on what this mobile workspace architecture looks like please review the  HPE Moonshot for Citrix Mobile Workspaces reference architecture. Segmenting the hypervisor OS into the SATA DOM and virtual machines on ultra-fast M.2 NVME storage provides an impressive array IOPS when needed. Power is another area where HPE and Intel have done a great job and providing a higher performing CPU and GPU silicon all with a maximum of 85 Watts!


Third, Citrix XenApp and XenDesktop can easily run on bare-metal instances of this solution with each delivering HDX 3D Pro for high performance graphical DX, Open GL and Web GL applications. With the new XenDesktop 7.9 release Citrix and Intel collaborated on delivering two new key parts to help delivers the X factor for IT. In XenDesktop 7.9, the HDX 3D Pro VDA can now leverage the Intel API for direct GPU utilization on bare-metal Windows client operating systems like Windows 10! This new breakthrough in graphics allows for Citrix users like engineering teams, intense developers, or day traders to have dedicated compute, network, storage, and graphics all without any sharing of hardware resources. Running bare-metal Windows 10 with XenDesktop 7.9 and dedicated Intel Iris Pro Graphics delivers up to 20FPS and supports up to 3 monitors!

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XenApp subscriber scalability has also increased on the m710x. Login VSI 4.1.3 knowledge worker workload, scale tests averaged around 67 XenApp subscribers per m710x!

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Fourth, are virtualized graphics. Some of the Citrix subscribers have simpler application needs and are more toward the bottom of the pyramid due to the sheer amount of those employees performing similar roles. For those Citrix subscribers that are not engineers, but still desire a GPU enhanced XenDesktop, X still marks the spot and XenServer 7.0 with the new GVT-G. Graphics virtualization can provide a more cost-effective solution all while enabling them to have graphics for the masses.

The collaboration with Intel and Citrix has now enabled the new XenServer 7.0 release to support rich apps by virtualizing graphics for a rapid architecture for enabling HDX 3D Pro graphics with Windows client virtual machines without having to order a GPU. Enabling XenServer on the m710x can also enable a handful of users with a hybrid architecture to execute a variety of applications as mentioned in my mixed Moonshot blogs.

vm storage

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GPU pass-through is also another way to enable one virtual machine to have access to the entire GPU if necessary vs sharing it amongst virtual machines. Another great feature for XenServer 7.0 is the support for NVME drives. Since the m710x has four NVME drives, you can create a fast an easy stripe of 4 NVME drives during the installation of XenServer 7.0 as shown below.

In summary X marks the spot for Citrix, Intel and HPE Moonshot for creating the best platform and solution stack which enables a true ANY Citrix workload to be leveraged without additional requirements for the fastest and simplest HDX experience with on-demand graphics from Iris Pro. Whether its physical machines with HDX 3D Pro, virtual machines with XenServer and HDX 3D Pro, virtual storage solutions with Atlantis and XenServer, today the design options are endless for any Citrix workload with these break through hardware and software solutions.

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