The New NVIDIA GRID

Today, August 17, NVIDIA publicly announced big changes in the GRID product line. The introduction of a brand-new GPU architecture, the new 5.0 GRID software and a licensing rebranding. Most excited about these announcements are the new GPU’s. These are based on the Pascal architecture and like its predecessor, the Maxwell GPU’s, they lead the way into accelerating datacenters all over the globe. With the new Pascal based GPU’s the Industry most powerful enterprise virtual workstation becomes available.

NVIDIA

Originally NVIDIA focused the PC gaming market with delivering the best GPU’s. But along the way NVIDIA redefined computer graphics and revolutionised parallel computing. (take a look at this video for an explanation between parallel and sequential computing). Parallel computing powers todays Deep Learning (DL) and ignited Artificial Intelligence (AI). And let’s face it, AI is on everyone’s mind and it is already all around us. Take a moment and watch the opening keynote of the NVIDIA GPU Technology Conference (GTC). NVIDIA GPU’s are they super fast and efficient brains of computers, self-driving cars and robots.

NVIDIA revolutionising AI and DL with its GPU’s has a great benefit for GRID. All the knowledge and development comes straight towards the datacenter solutions with the Tesla datacenter GPU’s. The Tesla GPU’s are perfect for accelerating virtual desktops and delivering Windows and Linux desktops and apps to any user on any device, anywhere they want……… OK, as long as they have a connection.

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NVIDIA GRID M10 – GPU for the Masses

Today, may 18th 2016, NVIDIA publicly announced its new member of the Tesla based GRID family. With Tesla based GRID we already knew the M6 and the M60. This lineup is now accompanied with the M10, a true GPU for the masses!

Last week Jim McHugh, VP and GM of NVIDIA, held a special NVIDIA GRID pre-briefing where he shared this announcement about the GRID M10 Tesla. With this new M10 a virtual desktop with an excellent User eXperience (UX) becomes available for all. Before I share all the details about the M10. Let’s have a quick refresh about why GPU accelerated virtual desktops are that important.

Why do we all need a GPU

When we buy a desktop or laptop computer these days a great UX is available right away. Fire it up, go online and YouTube your way into this experience. We stream at 1080p minimum and expect non less. And naturally we have a great UX with whatever we do on our customer devices, whether we edit our vacation photo’s and videos, create a fully animated presentation with Microsoft Sway for our kids, we expect a great UX. We bring these expectations with us to the office. We expect non less when we are at work. Besides this graphical expectation we also expect to work wherever we are using the device of our choice. This calls for a highly flexible solution, brought to us by desktop virtualization techniques such as VMware Horizon and Citrix XenApp and XenDesktop for example. With these solutions you are able to deliver a centralized, virtualized desktop environment to anyone with any device as long as they are connected. This is great, but what about an excellent UX? This is where graphics comes along. We still expect this excellent experience, right? With NVIDIA GRID technology we are able to deliver this excellent UX, but every excellent solution comes with its price.

NVIDIA GRID

NVIDIA first introduced the K1 and the K2 cards. These GPU’s are based on Keplar. Later on GRID 2.0 brought us the M6 and the M60 based on the Maxwell architecture. These GRID solutions made it possible to deliver a virtual desktops for the CAD/CAM designers but also for the knowledge workers using MSFT Office, Web browsers and multimedia software. Everybody could leverage the graphics power of GRID technology. With this GRID technologies the vGPU profiles allows us to use a graphics board up to 32 ConCurrent Users. Off course you are able to more NVIDIA GRID cards in a server. In some cases up to 8 cards per node. For a complete list of supported see http://www.nvidia.com/object/grid-certified-servers.html. All NVIDIA preferred partners have models available supporting up to 4 NVIDIA GRID Cards.

So now you have bought a new server with fancy Broadwell processors, a ton of memory and a smart software based storage solution and on top of it all you added these awesome GRID cards. With a standard HPE DL380 Gen9 server you are able to fit two M60 GRID cards, allowing you to serve 64 VDI desktops with this awesome UX. But what to do with the rest of this great piece of hardware? Naturally you could serve regular VDI desktops with all resources left, but everybody deserves an excellent UX. Now with the new M10 you can. This GRID card is designed for density.

NVIDIA GRID M10

With the NVIDIA GRID M10 you can serve up to 64 VDI desktops with an excellent UX. Using the same DL380 this results in 128 CCU per server. This finally delivers a GPU for the masses. Let’s have a look at the M10 specifications.

M10 Specifications

The NVIDIA GRID M10 is optimized for Virtual PC and Virtual Applications Workloads. This is a true graphics card designed for user density. How does the M10 fits in with the M6 and the M60?

Tesla lineup

The expected list price of the M10 is to be expected around $ 2.500. With the new M10 the licensing model is applied as well. For virtual applications a minimum of $ 10 (annual subscription) per CCU is required as well. See for a complete overview on GRID licensing my previous blog http://www.jitslangedijk.com/nvidia-grid-2-0-new-pricing-and-licensing-model/

With the GRID 2.0 M6 and M60 GPU boards NVIDIA was able to deliver twice the performance for Designers, Power Users and Knowledge workers. With the M10 there are able to deliver twice the user density with up to 64 VDI desktops leveraging the Maxwell based GPU performance. For knowledge workers the M10 provides the highest level of experience for all their apps on any device. With the M6 and M60 the power users and designers are fully served. With the introduction of the M10 organisations can now provide any level of experience for any workload.

The M10 fits in with the Virtual Applications or Virtual PC license model. Virtual Applications with Citrix XenApp is great combination where the M10 really would be appreciated by users.

Final Thoughts…

I believe a VDI environment should have it all. Support for any OS, any client device, any connection and available whenever I need it. I compare my VDI environment performance wise to my laptop computer, just like any other business consumer. This means my VDI desktop is equipped with a state-of-the-art CPU, the right amount of memory and with the right (software based/converged) storage solution and perhaps most important a GPU which delivers an awesome User eXperince! As I said, all business consumers have these expectations or at least deserve such an experience. With the M10 this is possible. The M10 is optimized for user density. This means we are able to fully benefit from all resources a server delivers these days.

My only concerns are still the licensing costs. It adds an extra $ 10 per CCU to the environment, on top of the card itself. Depending on our concurrency ratio this number could come down, but still, its extra. Working on many public tenders, where competitive pricing is required its hard to get sold. In most situations graphics are only required for a small portion of users. With the K1 and the M60 a GPU came available to many power users. The M10 is the next step to deliver a GPU to of us, a GPU for the masses!

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NVIDIA GRID 2.0 – NEW PRICING and LICENSING MODEL

NVIDIA GRIDOn March 4th, NVIDIA announced some big changes in both their licensing model as well as their pricing. At their annual GPU Technology Conference (GTC) in San Jose (CA), NVIDIA informed all the GRID enthusiasts and GRID curious people out there about these big changes. Now, you may think, “Why do you consider this a big change?” Let me clarify on this.

With GRID 2.0 NVIDIA decided to introduce a software licensing model, which wasn’t really appreciated by existing NVIDIA GRID 1.0 (K1 & K2) customers. But ever since NVIDIA announced GRID 1.0 End Of Sale (EOS) last month (March 2016) customers became stressed out. Everyone started calculating and came out with somehow ‘difficult’ business cases, so to speak. Today, things have changed, and they changed in a good way!

NVIDIA has simplified their GRID offering, simplified the business model as well as the License Management. It is tempting to compare the old model and pricing with the newly announced ones, but I won’t go there. The old model and pricing is ‘water under the bridge’, let’s focus on the current situation. I do have comparison charts if you are interested, just let me know. Before we dig into what’s new, let me refresh your memory about NVIDIA GRID.

NVIDIA GRID

In my early years in IT I was introduced with Server Based Computing (SBC), a big leap coming from the concept of ‘super computers’ and Character User Interface (CUI) based terminals. SBC, and later on VDI, brought us flexible and easy to manage environments which brought almost all user functionality to their endpoints. People were able to perform their job regardless of their location, device and connection. Work became less of ‘a place’ and more ‘a thing you do’.

Work isn’t a place, its something you do

With virtual desktops many benefits were introduced but there was always a small part of the application set which didn’t fit in. Applications requiring rich graphics were not the best candidate for SBC/VDI environments. We used reverse seamless techniques to cope with these kind of challenges. This resulted in a centralized environment with virtual machines providing secure access to applications and data where some endpoint devices provided extra functionality with graphic intense applications. These endpoints are equipped with a GPU. This is just one recognizable example.

Almost three years ago NVIDIA introduced GRID 1.0 with the K1 and K2 GPU’s. These Keplar cards brought us lots opportunities with GPU virtualization. Virtualization techniques we all know from server virtualization became available for GPU’s. Within a virtualized environment we already used pass-through configurations for specific use cases. These are 1:1 solution. One user could leverage one GPU. Citrix HDX 3D Pro and Teradici Remote Workstation cards were used as well.

With the NVIDIA vGPU techniques this changed. With a virtualized GPU, all of a sudden, there is a 1:N solution. Based on the vGPU profile you are able to maximize up to 16 concurrent users per GPU. With boards containing multiple GPU’s this results into 32 concurrent users.

Time Slicing

Another huge benefit with GRID is the fact you are able to actually use a GPU to its full potential. I know designers use their expensive physical workstations to their full potential, but in the end of the day, they are humans just like me. Every now and then they need a cup of coffee, take a bathroom break or end up in a discussion with a fellow designer on which design is better. My point is, the GPU isn’t used 100% of the time. This is where GRID benefits with something called time slicing. Time slicing is a well-known technology that hypervisors (e.g. vSphere, XenServer, Hyper-V) use to share physical resources between virtual machines. NVIDIA GRID uses this same technology to share the GPU between multiple virtual machines. So, while the designer is taking his lunch break or in a meeting someone else is able to use the GPU, which won’t be possible in a physical world. This time slicing allows the distribution of pooled resources based on actual need. NVIDIA GRID uses time slicing to share the 3D engine between virtual machines. But it even gets better. Even when the GPU (and CPU) is under load a designer isn’t zooming or rotating all of the time. The CPU and GPU load results in spikes, with free time in between. This free time is usable to other workloads on different VM’s making the GRID model extremely efficient.

Erik Bohnhorst (Performance Engineering Lead Architect at NVIDIA) presented a great session on Time Slicing at the NVIDIA GRID Days. (I short blog describing these first GRID Days can be found here.)

NVIDIA GRID Benefits

NVIDIA GRID changed the game of 2D/3D Graphics in combination with virtual desktop environments and allows people to perform their jobs in a more clever way with a rich User eXperience (UX)! Speaking of UX, the NVIDIA GRID model isn’t just for the designers and power users. Everybody can leverage from a GPU, receiving a great UX. Applications like Microsoft Office or web applications hugely benefit from a GPU. So whether you are a designer or a knowledge worker using Office applications most of the day, they all deserve a workstation class UX. User eXperience is King!

So, why do we need a GPU in each and every virtual desktop (SBC and VDI)?

  • Flexibility
    Work isn’t a place, it’s something you do.
  • Access
    A virtual desktop delivers applications and data on any device, any location and any connection.
  • Security and Control
    Information (IP) is kept within the secured datacenter.
  • Application Integration
    Applications and their data is kept close to each other, within the datacenter. There is no need to copy large data sets back and forth towards different locations.
  • BYO
    A virtual, centralized desktop enables secure access to applications and data in a BYO concept.
  • Disaster Recovery
    Multi-side and/or multi-datacenter on different geo locations is easier to accomplish. 

So we all benefit from a GPU in our virtual desktops and we all should have one, but what about the money? First, the licensing model.

Licensing Model

The previous licensing model contained three different license models. There was a Virtual PC, a Virtual Workstation and a Virtual Workstation Extended license available. These licenses where only available as Perpetual License. As mentioned, I won’t compare the previous models with the ones announced. The old model is ‘water under the bridge’.

So, what’s new you wonder?

First of all, NVIDIA introduced an Annual Subscription license model next to the existing Perpetual license model. Second, the Virtual Workstation Extended is gone, the vGPU profiles and support (NVIDIA CUDA, OpenCL and GPU Pass-through) available in this Extended license are now available with the Virtual Workstation license. And third, a new license is introduced with the Virtual Applications license.

As of today the following licensing models are available.

GRID_Licensing

NVIDIA GRID Virtual Applications

The Virtual Applications model is introduced for those organizations who use RDSH or Citrix XenApp environments. These shared hosted desktop environment can really benefit a GPU. Both for the ever important User eXeperience (UX) as well as User Density. A lot of Windows applications e.g. Adobe Photoshop and Microsoft Office application can leverage a GPU the UX improves drastically. And since we don’t bother the CPU that much with instructions which are ‘better off’ being processed at a GPU the User Density increases.  

NVIDIA GRID Virtual PC

The Virtual PC is intended for users who want a virtual desktop and need great UX. Delivering applications, browsers and HD video with the same experience as people are used to when they are using a physical PC.

NVIDIA GRID Virtual Workstation

The Virtual Workstation is available for those who require a professional graphics virtual workstation, the Power Users, Designers and Engineers. The ones designing the next Boeing or doing all the cool stuff at BMW. These man and woman use Adobe CS6, AutoDesk AutoCad, Esri and Catia on a day to day basis. These are the ones creating a new world.

Let’s compare these models to each other.

NVIDIA GRID Licenses

 

Licensing Prices

As mentioned NVIDIA announced new GRID prices. Today NVIDIA offers two business models with Perpetual Licenses and Annual Subscription, both with their own pricing, off course.  “So, what about these prices already”, I hear you thinking.

Licenses

With these new business models and prices organizations gain ‘freedom of choice’. Obtain an Annual Subscription, with SUMS included, just for one year or invest some extra and get a Perpetual license in which you’ll be GRID Enabled for life. With Perpetual licenses SUMS is required only the first year, after the first year it’s optional.

Also be aware there is an Education Pricing program. Use it to your advantage, if applicable.

Annual Subscription provides software entitlement, Support, Updates, Maintenance (SUM) for 1 year. If you prefer more, you’ll get a 3 year entitlement and pay upfront.

SUMS

Last but not least, the SUMS offering is simplified. With the introduction of GRID 2.0 SUSM was offered in 2 flavors, Basic and Production. The only difference between those 2 offerings was phone support. Well, they opened up some extra landlines. Everybody who buys SUMS or an Annual Subscription is allowed to give the green team a call.

GRID_SUMS

Take a look at the NVIDIA GIRD Packaging and Licensing Guide for more details or contact me if you have any questions on GRID.

Final Thoughts

NVIDIA has brought a great second generation of GRID cards with the M60 and M6 boards. Nevertheless the introduction of licenses didn’t brought them the traction which everyone was hoping for. I truly believe in GPU for the masses. Each and every user deserves a workstation style user experience with their virtual desktops. With the introduction of the new licensing model and pricing this could be more in reach, but will it be enough, I’m not sure to be honest. The first few business cases will prove.

NVIDIA has raised the bar for GPU virtualization. Competitors like AMD, with the FirePro S7150/S7150 x2, are closing in. Maybe their offerings are ‘good enough’. Only people (users) can tell. I know quadro certified can be a huge deal, but for lots of environments this isn’t a requirement if you are just pursuing a ‘good enough’ User eXperience.

Nevertheless, the NVIDIA GRID team achieved something new, something great and explored new grounds. They’ve got a track record and proved they do a great job. Competition will drive all competitors to aim higher, which is beneficial to all of us.  

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NVIDIA GRID Days- My thoughts and what I have Learned

NVIDIAGRIDD1Last week, March 1st and 2nd, I was invited at the inaugural NVIDIA GRID Days at NVIDIA HQ, Santa Clare, CA. Together with 12 other ‘lucky ones’ I was selected to participate in this very first get together of people who are actively working with NVIDIA GRID. For me as a solution architect at PQR working on GRID enabled virtualization projects this was a huge opportunity to meet the NVIDIA GRID team and to learn from there insights as well as providing feedback from the field. Take the GRID 2.0 licensing for example. A lot of our existing GRID 1.0 (K1 & K2) are upset with this new licensing model which was introduced with GRID 2.0.

This blog will cover some of my experiences at these two GRID days at NVIDIA. There is lots of information disclosed by the GRID team these two days. I’m not going to cover it all unfortunately. Enjoy reading en if you have any questions, feel free to ask.

For those you are new to GRID and do not have a clear understandings of the differences between GRID 1.0 and 2.0, I’ll be writing a blog on this shortly, just keep an eye out on this blog site.


 

The Toys

The first day stared with a real treat. Rachel Berry invited Mark Templeton, the retired CEO of Citrix. He paid us a visit and shared his cool toys. He brought his Vintage Electric Bike (http://vintageelectricbikes.com) and his Tesla Model S P85D to have a spin around the parking lot. The design of the bike is extraordinary and riding it was an awesome experience. For Mark, sharing his toys is, as he sad, a fundamental truth.

“Sharing is a fundamental truth”

Super Uber Sensor

After getting a ride to NVIDIA headquarters in Mark’s Tesla he showed us a Super Uber Sensor which was a prototype. The sensor has it all (e.g. infrared, thermal, sonar, radar, audio, video etc.). It’s able to track ‘flight time’, so it gets to know the distance of objects and it can track all knows devices, say like your smartphone. Image the use cases with such a sensor. A store for example. It is able to track all movements of customers and you can analyze the pattern people walk inside the store, which products are selected at the shelves and eventually are bought. Or use it at home, or Airbnb, to make it a really smart building.

Mark provided a quick demo with the The Super Uber Sensor and I have to say it’s a great piece of technique and opens up lots of opportunities but isn’t there yet. Great demo though.

After all these fancy toys it was time for the real deal, the green stuff, the NVIDIA stuff!

NVIDIA

NVIDIA is a company we all know for its presence in the world of gaming. Delivering high graphics to get the best gaming experience. Besides the huge presence they also play a huge role in professional visualization, datacenter and automotive markets. NVIDIA is involved in almost any automotive brand such as Audi, BMW, Mercedes, Volvo and Tesla. You can imagine the GPU power required to drive a car autonomously, understanding it’s surrounding and possible obstacles. Take a look at NVIDIA DRIVE Automotive Technology here for more information.

The GRID Days where all about the Multi GPU Technology in the Professional Visualization and Virtualization. In this space Quadro is the main brand people know. NVIDIA has combined the graphics capabilities of Quadro GPU’s and the high performance computing power of Tesla GPU’s. With Quadro and Tesla GPU’s its all about Performance, Reliability and Support. 

NVIDA was founded in 1993 by Jen-Hsun Huang, Chris Malachowsky and Curtis Priem. Today Jen-Hsun is the CEO, quite a big achievement!

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Build, connect and extend to the cloud with Citrix Workspace Cloud – Part 2

Last week the first part of the ‘Build, connect and extend to the cloud withCWCLogo
Citrix
Workspace Cloud’ blog was published. You can find it here. Make sure you have read it before continuing this blog post. 

Now it’s time to dig into some details.


CWC from a technical perspective 

A traditional Citrix environment has several Citrix related core components within the IT infrastructure. So, besides the workloads, functionality to employees, we have a XenDesktop/XenApp controller, Licensing server, XenMobile Server, ShareFile StorageZone Controller, StoreFront servers, NetScaler and of course a SQL instance, at least for your XenApp/XenDesktop site configuration.

Let’s take a XenApp/XenDesktop environment as an example. An on-premises environment has all these different components installed, which you have to maintain. With CWC most of the core components are delivered “as a service”. The Delivery Controller, Licensing, StoreFront, and SQL are brought to you as a service. The images below illustrate the difference between a traditional on-premises and a CWC environment. The CWC components are ‘in the cloud’.CWC

This is an example for a XenApp/XenDesktop environment. As you can imagine the XenMobile Server (appliance) and the ShareFile Control Plane are deployed into CWC as well.

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Build, connect and extend to the cloud with Citrix Workspace Cloud – Part 1

CWCLogo

In this first blog I’ll share my thoughts on Citrix Workspace Cloud (CWC). What exactly is it and what is being solved with CWC? Why and when is it beneficial to organizations? These are the questions I answer in this blog series ‘Build, connect and extend to the cloud with Citrix Workspace Cloud’.

This first part is all about what is being solved with CWC. It’s about the hybrid cloud options with Citrix Workspace Cloud Services. Part 2 of the CWC blog is about the technical perspective. In the near future I’ll go into some details regarding the various CWC services. For now, enjoy reading.

Towards the Hybrid Cloud

Nowadays, many organizations are struggling with all kinds of questions about cloud. If they have a clear understanding about what ‘the cloud’ has to offer (e.g. public cloud, private cloud, and hybrid), they face the question which part of their IT infrastructure is cloud ready. Where to start? Which parts of the IT infrastructure can be moved towards a cloud solution? In some cases, it’s ‘simply’ a strategic (management) decision to enter the world of cloud. Whether it’s a strategic goal or not, organizations still need to explore which parts of their IT infrastructure will suit a cloud solution. Simply migrate an entire IT infrastructure at once isn’t a realistic option. A good start, for example, is Exchange Online (part of Microsoft Office 365). No longer a full blown on-premises Exchange environment is required. Simple sign up, swipe your card and you are good to go. So, before you sign op for any cloud solution at all, get a very good understanding of an IT infrastructure and the relations between the various components.

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first thought…..

Every once and a while I write a blog on the PQR website. On some occasions I have the opportunity to write an article for a magazine, of course IT related.

Besides these opportunities provided by my employer I have some more ‘thoughts’ which I would like to share with anyone on the same page or better yet with those who disagree. Thoughts can only get better if they are discussed with each other.

Thanks for now, and stay tuned.

 

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