This week Citrix released Citrix XenApp and XenDesktop 7.8 For a complete overview of all that is new in version 7.8 check out the following great articles:
Citrix XenDesktop 7.8 and Citrix XenApp 7.8 by Citrix CTP Thomas Poppelgard
In this article I’ll focus on the enhancements that have been made to the Citrix HDX Display protocol stack. The what’s new guide for Citrix XenDesktop 7.8 states the following enhancements:
- Framehawk server scalability improvements. Over 40% average reduction in memory footprint. Up to 20% increase in CPU efficiency.
- Reduced VDA memory footprint in Thinwire. The graphics encoder processing pipeline now eliminates the use of an intermediate frame buffer when running Thinwire without video codec compression.
These statements are screaming to be independently measured and that’s what this article is all about.
Remote Display Analyzer
Today Bram Wolfs and I are announcing the general availability of Remote Display Analyzer.
The Remote Display Analyzer project started about 9 months ago when we were working on a presentation called “Citrix HDX Display Codec Deepdive”. The goal for this presentation was to explain the available display codecs and show the impact of each of these codecs on both user experience and resource utilisation.
We quickly found that it wasn’t as easy to configure the HDX policies and just assume for the result to be as configured. We found that often times the resulting configuration was different then what we expected based on the configuration. This has to do with OS versions on the virtual desktop and endpoint as well as the endpoint capabilities.
Analysing the resulting configuration and resource utilisation was both time consuming and complex because this requires several consoles like HDX Monitor, Director, Microsoft Task Manager et cetera. Especially HDX Monitor is very confusing when it comes to viewing the active Display encoder.
Updated: September 22nd 2015
Although it has been a while since I’ve written this article there’s still a lot of interest in the subject. Pretty much nothing has changed since I released it so it’s was also still valid, until yesterday. Community hero Andrew Morgan released a long awaited update for ThreadLocker. I’ve updated the Threadlocker part of this article and the conclusion.
If you are reading this you might also be interested in part 2 of the CPU scheduling and memory optimization solutions series.
For a while now customers and colleagues are asking me which tool to use when it comes to CPU scheduling and memory optimizations. We use several management products and end up with more than one product utilizing these tasks. Choice is good but do we just enable them all and if not what’s the best way to configure this?
When you look a little bit deeper then plain and simple marketing you’ll notice that the way the different products handle CPU scheduling is totally different and combining some of them will degrade system performance or simply don’t work for example Citrix CPU management does not start when Microsoft DFSS is enabled.
Before we start I’d like to thank Andrew Morgan for allowing me to re-use some information from his ThreadLocker topic.
To start off I will first try to explain how each product works and will then summarize and see if we can work through them and work to a proper advice.
Microsoft Windows 2008 R2 Dynamic Fair Share Scheduling (DFSS)
Over the last few weeks I’ve been working closely with Rachel Berry (Citrix) and Jason Southern (Nvidia) on some unexpected web browser behavior with web browsers on Nvidia grid enhanced VDI and RDS virtual machines running Citrix HDX 3D Pro. This work has resulted in a new support article from Citrix CTX202065.
In this article I’ll go a bit more in depth to explain our findings and hopefully help you to get better performance from web browsers but also give you some technical detail for situations where other applications may not perform as well as one would expect.
Two years ago I started writing the Citrix Provisioning Services versus Machine Creation Services decision trees. A year and 12k visitors later it’s time for an updated version. The Provisioning Services vs Machine Creation Services decision tree has gotten a lot of attention over the last year. It’s used on Citrix blogs and more recently in one of the Citrix webinars by Atlantis Computing. This makes me proud and definitely works as an energizer to continue working on projects like this.
I’m writing this in such a way you won’t need to read the earlier articles but of course you are free to do so anyway.
The first article by Daniel Feller can be found here.
My article called Provisioning Services vs Machine Creation Services can be found here.
The 2013 revision of Provisioning Services vs Machine Creation Services can be found here.
After Daniel posted his decision tree over three years ago a lot has changed.
- New Citrix features like XenServer Intellicache, MCS for “XenApp on XenDesktop 7″ and Citrix Provisioning Services in memory caching (with spill-over to disk)
- In memory caching and deduplication by vendors like Atlantis Computing
- Hardware vendors like FusionIO who are delivering local flash based storage with IO figures with over 200k IOPS
- Local SSD storage prices have dropped massively and predictions are prices will continue to drop this year
- The introduction of a new industry called Web-Scale technology with leading vendors like Nutanix. Bas van Kaam wrote an excellent article on WebScale technology.
Citrix XenDesktop 7 is probably one of the biggest product releases by Citrix ever. The consolidation of two of the strongest products, XenApp and XenDesktop into one single product is a huge step forward on so many levels!
For those of you who worked with me or who I had the honor to discuss IT in general, know that I focus on simplicity. I can get really irritated about products with great functionality but are managed with terrible management tools and a lot of different consoles. This is why I love products like SMS Passcode and RES Software products.
For what I’ve seen in the latest announcements and while testing preview releases of XenDesktop 7 (also known as Excalibur), this really is a product that comes close to true simplicity. I’m really happy with the consolidation of products, features and consoles.
This article is not going to be a “what’s new and hip style” article, there are plenty of those out there. What I want to show you is how much simpler this release makes our lives on a product and architectural level. Not only on the implementation side but especially on the management side.