A decade since Citrix and NVIDIA pioneered the virtualization of 3D graphics apps for CAD and AEC, there is so much happening in this space that it is hard to keep up with all of the news.

It is extremely satisfying to see widespread customer recognition that virtualization is the best way to deliver applications like Dassault CATIA and SolidWorks, Autodesk Inventor and Revit, Siemens Teamcenter and NX, PTC Creo, SAP 3D Visual Enterprise, Bentley MicroStation, Schlumberger Petrel, ESRI ArcGIS Pro and so many more. Intellectual property is kept safe, designers can work from anywhere on any device, and computing resources are more efficiently utilized to reduce costs and speed up time-to-market. Continued technological advances from Citrix and our partners have opened up new use cases and spurred increased adoption. So, let’s take a quick look at some recent developments in the world of 3D professional graphics virtualization.

One major trend is the move to the Cloud. Microsoft Azure, IBM Cloud, AWS and others now offer graphics hardware acceleration for 3D workloads, and HDX 3D Pro supports them all. A great example is the Autodesk BIM Cloud Workspace, highlighted at the Autodesk University conference. Stay tuned for a blog post from our HDX Graphics PM, Roberto Moreno, on all of the exciting developments that are happening around Cloud-delivered 3D graphics applications (Windows and Linux) and the many options now available.

For customers who prefer an on-premises implementation, the selection of hardware platforms keeps expanding. Dassault recently announced certification of Lenovo’s NeXtScale NX360 server platform with the Dassault 3DEXPERIENCE portfolio, NVIDIA Quadro vDWS software, the NVIDIA Tesla M60, Citrix XenDesktop HDX 3D Pro and Citrix XenServer. Cisco, HPE, Dell EMC and Supermicro also have strong support for HDX 3D Pro in their hardware portfolios.  And in the HCI (Hyper-Converged Infrastructure) space, we are seeing strong momentum in server GPU support with partners like Nutanix and Cisco. Importantly, most 3D software ISVs have also recognized virtualization and server-virtualized graphics as a key part of the modern solution stack.

New options in endpoint hardware have also become available. One very notable example is the new HDX Ready Pi dual-monitor configuration, a very low cost option that supports 3D professional graphics at 1920x1080p HD resolution. The dual-monitor option shipped from NComputing in December, and it will also be available from ViewSonic. This configuration is ideal for designers who want to run their 3D apps on one monitor and their office productivity apps on another.

Many customers are keen to consolidate data centers or move to the Cloud. They need a remoting protocol that delivers great performance at high latency, even in the presence of packet loss. Last year, Citrix released our proprietary EDT transport protocol to overcome the limitations of UDP and TCP. Customers are loving it! Here’s an example from an AEC firm: “The ability to have users in Abu Dhabi connect to virtual desktops in Atlanta with a good experience is comparable to the Voyager 1 satellite communicating from 13 billion miles away… it just shouldn’t be possible!

And, we are the first virtualization vendor to offer H.265 High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC), new in XenDesktop 7.16 and Citrix Receiver for Windows 4.10. H.265 HEVC delivers superior visual quality over the same available bandwidth, or equivalent quality to H.264 with a substantial reduction in bandwidth consumption (up to 40%). Look for Roberto Moreno’s blog post on this topic for more information. After testing H.265 HEVC over EDT, one partner commented: “It is absolutely stunning! It is staggeringly good to look at!

In 2017, we also simplified HDX 3D Pro configuration and expanded GPU compatibility with our Citrix Ready partners, NVIDIA, AMD and Intel.

There’s a lot of activity around smart glasses and head-mounted displays (HMDs), too. ODG’s R7 smart glasses work with the Citrix Receiver for Android to provide a heads-up display that’s ideal for workers in the field (utilities, construction sites) or in manufacturing facilities. Our demos of virtualized Virtual Reality with the HTC Vive at Citrix Synergy, at Dassault’s UK Leadership in Manufacturing event, and other industry events, drew a steady line of eager participants. And in the Aerospace sector, we’re seeing Leap Motion technology being used to manipulate CAD images via hand tracking.

This blog post has touched on just a few key highlights. Next week, our partners attending the Citrix Summit conference will see more innovations in the 3D professional graphics space. Be sure to check out XenMotion live migration of NVIDIA GPU-accelerated VMs, another Citrix first. And there’s a lot more to come, so keep a watch on the Citrix blog!

Derek Thorslund
Director of Product Management

Follow @derektcitrix