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.
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)
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)
- Grid K2 GPU in W7 XD VDI Passthrough on 6.2 – Heaven benchmark Score 1631
- Grid K2 GPU in W7 XD VDI Passthrough on 6.5 (without tools upgrade) – Heaven benchmark Score 1666
- 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?)
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
|XS 6.5 w 6.2 Tools
|XS 6.5 w 6.5 Tools
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)
Here is a non exhaustive list of things recently discovered during a PoC of Citrix XenDesktop 7.6 with Nvidia GPU Passthrough from XenServer 6.2 SP1 (i.e Citrix HDX 3D Pro) for the Oil and Gas Industry
The alternative (rather long) heading for this article should probably be “how to deliver 3d graphic intensive Oil and Gas Applications via a Citrix virtual desktop with HDX”
You could say its a general bunch of optimal Citrix Xendesktop 7.6 HDX 3D pro settings or lessons learned
- It’s awesome and actually works pretty much out of the box!
- A low network latency is required for uninterrupted performance – ensure you are seeing less than around 30ms from Session to Server (Use the Citrix HDX Monitor 3.x)
- This can then easily be delivered to iPads, tablets, anything that supports the Citrix receiver which is pretty nifty!
- Ensure you are using the latest receiver 4.2 on ALL the clients – reconnecting a session to an older client (3.x or 12.x) pretty much renders the live HDX session useless.
- When installing the NVIDIA drivers in your VM for GPU passthrough you must ensure you have downloaded the driver version for the VM operating system (aka the Nvidia GRID Drivers for Windows 7 if using passthrough) – If you are using vGPU then you must get the NVIDIA GRID Drivers for vGPU XenDesktop
- Driver version here was important when running applications like Petrel or EDM Landmark that call specific functions from the native GPU, they will open if the driver version is wrong, but certain functions (like seismic Picking will perform poorly, if at all)
- Racked workstations with only one GPU (Nvidia K5000 etc) will not be available for passthrough if they are the only video card available in the system. You must have one available for DOM0 / console. Then Xenserver will free up the NVIDIA for passthrough.
- Of the performance testing we attempted on a host with 2.4GHZ Intel Xeon the performance for smaller resolutions (1440×900) was ok – but on larger resolutions (2560×1600) or for bigger processing – a minimum CPU in the host of 2.8 ghz (3.x better!) *A Faster CPU configuration may not work in some servers with 2 x Grid K2 cards as the power consumption of the cards themselves will be too high. Be sure of the resolutions you are trying to deliver first.
- Ensure the host system BIOS settings are set for Max Power / Performance mode.
- XenServer max NIC speed for a VM is 1gb, even with 10GB nic in the host.
- By default the Citrix policies will only allow for 30fps, you need to apply a policy to increase this to aim for 60fps.
- Read this article and walk through the settings listed by Jason Southern as they improve the performance of the Citrix session substantially
- Ensure your VM is getting the correct amount of vCPUS from xenserver, if not you can change the cores per CPU socket via the following commands (workstations are limited to 2 cores per socket)
- xe vm-list (find the UUID of the vm you want to fix / change)
- xe vm-param-set platform:cores-per-socket=4 uuid=xxxxxxxxxxxxx (Set the number of available cores per socket assigned to the VM here) Citrix article here
- Install http://support.citrix.com/article/CTX142095
- With the right configurations and modest end client resolutions (dual screen 1440 * 900) from a Unigine Heaven Benchmark we were seeing 8min-147max fps, with an average of 65.3fps
- With large client resolutions (dual screen 2560*1600) from Unigine heaven benchmark we were seeing 11min – 24max fps, with ave of 21.9fps
Drop us a message if you have any questions or leave comments below, we are happy to assist you with your virtualisation solutions!
Big thanks goes out to the teams at NVIDIA (Jason and Sarah) and CITRIX (Mark and John) for their assistance during this PoC – their instant access to knowledge, or – been there done that, meant all niggling issues could be sorted with a simple 30 minute phonecall!