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Should I upgrade Citrix XenServer 6.2 to XenServer 6.5?

In Short … HELL YES, see this PDF from Citrix with the large list of the improvements in XenServer 6.5

The new console is sleek and quick and a hell of an improvement over the previous with a number of bug fixes (notably for vGPU / VDI settings). It has a couple of new views (similar to the VMware Client), and from rudimentary tests the VMs on 6.5 are performing marginally better than 6.2.

xensrver_6.5_console_view2       xensrver_6.5_console_view1

The in place upgrade tested was flawless and preserved existing VMS on the host, including snapshots and templates. (it does however wipe out the XenServer backup directory so be prepared if you have any backups saved). Overall the entire upgrade process for one host (Dell R720) took around 8 minutes for the upgrade to complete (not including reboot time)

XenServer_6.5_upgrade_prompt

xenserver_6.5_backup-partition-prompt

XenServer6.5_InPlaceUpgrade

Benchmarking for GPU / VDI Passthrough

VM with 4vCPU, 90GB RAM, 150GB Local disk, Client with receiver 4.2 and local resolution of 2 x 1400 x 900, Running XenDesktop 7.6 on a Dell R720 Server. (3 benchmarks were run consecutively to ensure the results were not a one off – Final result was recorded)

  1. Grid K2 GPU in W7 XD VDI Passthrough on 6.2 – Heaven benchmark Score 1631
  2. Grid K2 GPU in W7 XD VDI Passthrough on 6.5 (without tools upgrade) – Heaven benchmark Score 1666
  3. Grid K2 GPU in W7 XD VDI Passthrough on 6.5 (with tools upgrade) – Heaven Benchmark Score 1666 (marginally higher FPS – but every bit helps in the world of VDI right?)

Results

Its worth noting the below results are only really recording the performance of the GPU not the over all VM, its ability to serve applications or open files etc and a load testing solution like Edgesight Load testing or LoginVSI should really be used in a production scenario to determine a more ‘real end user load’. It is nice to see however that even from this rudimentary test the performance is heading in the right direction!

Heaven Benchmark XenServer 6.2 vs 6.5 FPS Min FPS Max FPS
XS 6.2 64.7 19.1 139
XS 6.5 w 6.2 Tools 66.1 19.4 141.6
XS 6.5 w 6.5 Tools 66.2 22.3 142.1

Results Graph

xenserver_6.2-6.5-upgrade_GPU_Performance_Improvement

Note: the VM tools were upgraded with the GPU removed and direct from the Xenserver 6.5 console, I did not remove the VDA or Nvidia drivers first (experience shows that this is a best practice)