The Great Data Center Migration: Why Virtualized 3D Graphics Are Moving to GPUs

by Victoria Rege

Behind the walls of data centers around the world, a migration’s taking place. Virtual delivery of 3D graphics is moving from the CPU to the GPU.

This was clear last week at Citrix Synergy, a conference for virtualization, mobility, networking and cloud solutions.

In separate talks, virtualization experts Rachel Berry, Thomas Poppelgaard and Dane Young each featured NVIDIA GRID vGPU graphics acceleration. It was also in sessions and demos throughout the show, including those from our partners Cisco, Dell, HP and NetApp.

Traditional virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) offerings relied solely on the support of server CPUs. But limits imposed by the CPU made it nearly impossible to get a satisfactory user experience from virtualized, interactive, media-rich applications.

As a result, virtualization had worked well only for some—primarily task workers and certain knowledge workers. Left out were those with more graphically intense workloads—graphic designers, developers, and video producers and editors.

That’s now changing. GRID technology is opening new pathways for these users by offloading graphics processing from the CPU to the GPU.

Dell, Citrix and NVIDIA technologies offer a powerful combination to get this done. With Dell PowerEdge R730 servers running Citrix XenDesktop 7 and NVIDIA GRID vGPUs, IT staff can deliver rich, PC-graphics experiences and applications to more users. Meanwhile, applications and critical data remain protected and secure in the data center.

60in60 Challenge
Easy as VDI: Teams from Dell, NVIDIA and Citrix raced to set up 60 virtual desktops in 60 minutes.

At Citrix Synergy, Dell, Citrix and NVIDIA showed just how easy it is to set up VDI with NVIDIA GRID with the “#60in60 Challenge.” Four small teams—from Dell, NVIDIA and two groups of Citrix Technology Professionals—raced to set up 60 Citrix XenDesktop with NVIDIA GRID vGPU virtual desktops.

Each team had just 60 minutes using off-the-shelf hardware and software. After three rounds over the course of three days, all the teams finished within minutes of each other. NVIDIA’s Team Green achieved the fastest time with 60 desktops in 53 minutes.

Want to setup your own GPU-enabled server? Download the GRID vGPU deployment guide to learn how.

GRID delivers on the promise of instant access to, and collaboration on, powerful applications while users are on the go. Plus, GRID allows many virtual machines to share the power of a single GPU, with no compromises in performance.

Learn how customers like Bell Helicopter, City of Waukesha, Drake University and PSA Peugeot are using VDI with NVIDIA GRID graphics acceleration to improve mobility, scalability and employee productivity.

With access to such high-quality virtualized graphics, whether delivered via desktop or to devices far afield, the great data center migration looks to continue.