VMware Horizon Employee Experience

Communicate and collaborate effectively in the hybrid work era with Horizon Real-Time Audio-Video

VMware Horizon Real-Time Audio-Video (RTAV) allows VMware Horizon users to run a wide range of audio and video conferencing applications such as Microsoft Teams, Google Hangouts, Amazon Chime, and other online conferencing applications in their remote virtual desktop and app sessions. With remote and hybrid work becoming the new norm, it is imperative for any remote desktop and app solution to offer a compelling remote collaboration experience, which Horizon provides with the Real-Time Audio-Video capability. While optimized plugins dedicated for applications like Microsoft Teams, Zoom, and Cisco Webex are available for Horizon, there are several other applications that can run on Horizon virtual desktops and apps with this feature.  

With Real-Time Audio-Video, webcam and audio devices that are connected locally to the end user’s client device are redirected to the remote virtual desktop and app sessions. Redirected video and audio data with RTAV uses significantly less bandwidth than with USB redirection. Real-Time Audio-Video is compatible with standard conferencing applications and browser-based video applications, and it supports standard webcams, audio USB devices, and analog audio input. 

What’s new with Horizon Real-Time Audio-Video?  

Over the last year, Real-Time Audio-Video has undergone significant development. Let’s take a look at the innovations we’ve provided. 

H.264 and H.265 codecs 

With Real-Time Audio-Video, we can encode the video stream of unified communications (UC) applications using the latest and greatest video encoders, namely H.264 and H.265. These codecs are known to provide high-quality transmission of full-motion video with lower bandwidth requirements and lower latency than traditional video standards.  

For more information on codec support, review the Blast Extreme Optimization Guide

Hardware acceleration and WAN optimization  

Real-Time Audio-Video now enables customers to take advantage of their GPU implementation by offloading media encoding to the client-side GPU and decoding to the agent side GPU hardware. Not only does this free up expensive CPU cycles, but it also renders smoother frames to the virtual desktop or virtual app. We noticed a phenomenal improvement in performance to the tune of ~21% reduction in client-to-agent bandwidth, ~60% reduction in client-side CPU, and a ~20% reduction in agent-side CPU utilization compared to using Real-Time Audio-Video without hardware acceleration.

With more people working from home in the pandemic and post-pandemic era, WAN and public internet usage has greatly increased. These networks are known for their high packet loss and long real-time text (RTT) characteristics that can lead to productivity loss in remote collaboration scenarios. A lot of engineering effort has gone toward addressing these limitations and enhancing the user experience on RTAV when using a suboptimal network, and a key enhancement here was to implement Mosaic pixelate cancellation to confront network jitter.  

Higher frames per second 

We have improved the frames-per-second (FPS) rate, especially with high-resolution (720p, 1080p) while using webcam redirection and controlling video-in-frame rate based on CPU usage. The chart below shows the astounding results we achieved in FPS output (compare the first line to the second in each row of FPS output) because of these changes. You’ll see anywhere from an 158% to 240% increase!  

Horizon RTAV frames-per-second increases
Horizon RTAV frames-per-second increases

Real-Time Audio-Video v2 

Horizon now has a completely re-architected Real-Time Audio-Video platform, considering the version in Horizon 2012 was designed to support a single webcam/microphone device only and was not ideal for multiple-device redirection. This rearchitected platform brought in several benefits such as:   

  • Support for multiple webcam/microphone device redirection for RDSH 
  • Support for real webcam resolutions redirection (multiple webcam resolutions support) for both VDI and RDSH  
  • Less delay for audio-in at the beginning of opening audio-in devices 
  • Faster device redirection during session connection 
  • Ability to separately configure disabling of audio and video  
  • Microphone audio sample rate persistence enhancement 

As you can see, there have been lots of RTAV updates over the last year, and we’ll continue to invest in the remote experience area to bring forth the best possible user experience in Horizon. If you have any feedback or enhancement requests for RTAV, we’d love to hear from you. For more information on VMware Horizon, visit http://www.vmware.com/go/horizon.  

If you’re interested in learning about more Horizon audio-video capabilities like Horizon with SDK for WebRTC redirection, click here.