VMware Horizon

Blog Post from GTC: Hosted desktop and workstation workloads – what about my 3D graphics?

By Aaron Blasius, senior product manager, VMware

VDI solutions have been available for many years now and are becoming the preferred desktop platform for many market segments.  From the enterprise to state, local and education customers and from Health Care to the the small and mid-size businesses, organizations are realizing the benefits of delivering desktop workloads to their employees from private clouds enabled via VMware View. 

Centralization, automated provisioning and additional security are the primary drivers of View hosted solutions. Until recently, customer’s looking to secure their high value workstations assets in hosted solutions has been limited to niche solutions. 

This is about to change.Virtualizing graphics workloads was not an immediate need for the early adopters of virtualization for the data center.  It was the evolution to virtual desktop workloads forced the issue of virtual graphics for the data center.  Organizations wanted to bring VDI to more teams and employees demanded the same high fidelity experience from their virtual machines as the one they could find at home. 

VMware leveraged the virtual 3D technology developed for the Workstation and Fusion products to ensure the rich graphics experience provided by enterprise software products such as Aero.  Software rendered 3D in View 5 was delivered and the use case grew.

At VMworld in Copenhagen last year we announced a technology preview with NVIDIA that enabled a true virtual workstation experience.  vSphere virtualization coupled with the full power of the NVIDIA Quadro GPU card securely delivered from the data center to scientist, engineers, artists and manufacturing partners through a View virtual environment.  Private clouds will be able to host the organizations most important IP.  This provides the ability to more easily and securely leverage their global workforce, distributed supply chains and external partners; the View use case grew.

What’s next?
For me, few end-user scenarios expand the VDI use case more than 3D graphics.  Harnessing the tremendous efficiency of the GPU for graphical rendering in a View environment impacts the two major concerns of any VDI initiative: experience and cost. 

The tremendous power of ESX will be able to virtualize and manage NVIDIA’s hardware based GPU resources.   Accelerated 3D rendering provides a better end-user experience and increased efficiency means higher consolidation ratios.  Cards like NVIDIA’s next generation VGX GPU cards provide the horsepower to ensure GPU doesn’t have to be limiting resource for graphics hungry power users.  Managing this resource with the industry’s leading hypervisor from VMware means customers will continue to manage all their private clouds via vSphere.  Multi-monitor use cases, DirectX and OpenGL application, CAD reviewers and diagnosticians are just some of the groups who have struggled with the graphics performance of VDI in the past.  But with virtual graphics acceleration, this will no longer be the case. 

As I said, things are about the change and look for VMware to continue to lead the way by providing the most comprehensive graphics strategy in the market, I for one am very excited.