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Running Deswik.Suite on VDI platforms

June 7, 2016
by Matt Chilcott

We often get asked about running Deswik.Suite on virtualized platforms, otherwise known as Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI).

Running Deswik.Suite on VDI is technically challenging due to the graphical requirements of our CAD engine when viewing and manipulating large mining datasets, including solids and surfaces, in 3D.

Further, there are often large computing resources required to run Deswik.Suite effectively with the large datasets typical of mining data. Due to these large resource requirements, the Deswik.Suite user density on VDI host platforms is quite low, which is the primary reason that the resulting TCO is often the same or worse than appropriately spec’ed PCs/Laptops.

Despite these two important points, it is still technically possible to run Deswik.Suite effectively on a VDI platform under very specific conditions. These are outlined below. Further, it should be noted that running Deswik.Suite on VDI is not commonly done by our customers and we do not specifically test or officially support our software on these platforms.

VDI Vendor Platforms

Citrix XenDesktop or Citrix XenApp connecting via Citrix HDX 3D Pro

  • Nvidia GRID GPUs as recommended by Citrix for XenDesktop with HDX 3D Pro
  • Graphics Cards as recommended by Citrix for XenApp with HDX 3D Pro
  • vSphere or XenServer virtualization platform for XenDesktop
  • Citrix software edition that supports HDX 3D Pro
  • Other specifications for the virtualization platform as recommended by Citrix
  • This technology stack has been prototyped and tested internally and provided adequate performance
  • This would be our preferred platform of the three

VMware Horizon (VDI) connecting via PCOIP

  • Teradici PCOIP host cards
  • Graphics Cards as recommended by VMware (preferably vDGA configuration, otherwise vSGA)
  • Other specifications for the virtualization platform as recommended by VMware
  • This technology stack has been prototyped and provided adequate performance
  • This platform likely provides the highest 3D performance but lowest TCO due to cost and complexity
  • This platform has the highest bandwidth requirements (between the VDI host and the end user device) of the three options

Hyper-V RDS VDI connecting via RemoteFX

  • Graphics cards as recommended by Microsoft
  • Other specifications for the virtualization platform as recommended by Microsoft
  • This technology stack has NOT been prototyped or tested

Hardware Requirements

Host Resources:

  • CPU clock speed should be as high as possible due to the performance requirements of the guests
  • Number of CPU cores depending on the number of Deswik.Suite VM density per host
  • Graphics cards types as recommended by the specific VDI vendor chosen.
  • Graphics cards specifications (RAM) depending on the number of Deswik.Suite VM density per host
  • RAM dependent on the number of Deswik.Suite VM density per host
  • Guest VM files to reside on SAS or SSD disks

Host Resource contention:

  • Physical RAM should not be oversubscribed for the VMs located on that host
  • Physical Graphics Card RAM should not be oversubscribed for the VMs located on that host
  • The physical CPU cores on the host should be more than or equal to the aggregate of the virtual cores across all the VMs located on that host

Guest (VM) Resources:

  • Exactly 4 virtual cores in total – no more, no less
  • At least 16Gb RAM, 32Gb recommended
  • At least 2GB dedicated graphics RAM
  • Install virtualization “services/tools” for the vendor chosen

Network requirements

  • Given the highly graphical nature of information presented to the end user device, at least 2Mb of bandwidth (per user) is required between the VDI host and the client device
  • All network connectivity between the VDI host and file servers should be at least 1Gb.

Conclusion

After evaluating various VDI platform vendors on hardware configurations that would provide adequate performance, we found that the TCO of a VDI solution is often the same or worse than appropriately spec’ed PCs/Laptops. Given the additional technical complexity, we recommend NOT running Deswik.Suite on virtual platforms at this time.

Should you choose to go ahead and do a proof of concept in your environment, we strongly recommend discussing this with our technical team first.