The Right vGPU Profile for Windows 10

by Tony Paikeday

By Manvender Rawat

The latest operating system from Microsoft Windows 10 is the most graphically intensive operating system that we’ve seen and is designed to deliver improved user experience across PC and mobile devices. While Windows 10 has a great, mobile-inspired, look and feel, it also introduces greater demand on computing resources and more frequent OS updates which are driving many organizations to rethink how they approach PC lifecycle management. Desktop virtualization allows IT to more easily manage and deploy these new upgrades however new considerations must be weighed when selecting the right vGPU profile for your Windows 10 deployment.

Microsoft’s Windows 10 specification webpage mentions that at a minimum Windows 10 requires a DirectX 9-capable video card with WDDM driver. While Software 3D render, (used by most modern hypervisors) should be able to support Windows 10, it comes with limitations. Soft-3D doesn’t support DirectX 10 or 11, which is used by most common applications these days. On top of that, the DirectX calls made by the OS and applications will be translated by the CPU, which will result in lower consolidation and performance for most use cases.

GRID 4.1 utilizationThe November 2016 GRID Software Update

To support the increasing frame buffer requirements of Windows 10 and modern applications, the latest release of NVIDIA GRID, the November 2016 Maintenance Release, has further optimized resource allocation per VM, decreasing the baseline frame buffer requirement by up to 70 MB.This increases available buffer for user applications by reducing GRID management overhead, resulting in improved user experience and application performance.  We should also point out that the November release also introduces support for VMware vSphere 6.5.

We ran a series of scalability tests on the latest release to determine if we could indeed successfully run 128 users on a host with two Tesla M10 cards. To simulate office user workloads, we ran LoginVSI Windows 10 knowledge worker workload for 64, 100 and 128 VMs configured with M10-0B profile on the server. While all three tests finished successfully, proving that we can in fact run Windows 10 at maximum user density for the tested workload, we did notice that at 128 VMs CPU quickly reached 100% utilization which could impact user experience.

Host CPU utilization

Guidance for NVIDIA GRID vGPU Sizing

While the 512MB (M10-0B) profile will work for some Windows 10 workloads, there are several factors that will increase frame buffer usage above the 512MB threshold and require a 1GB (M10-1B) profile to support. Based on testing done by the NVIDIA Performance Engineering team, we recommend that users that have any of the following characteristics should be assigned a vPC 1 GB profile to deliver optimal experience:

  • More than approx. 5 applications; WebGL content, video streaming, and flash applications
  • Higher than 1920 x 1080p resolution
  • 2 or more monitors

If you’d like to understand how to deliver optimal performance to your users look at our Windows 10 vGPU profile sizing guide which will walk you through the steps for your own environment.