Citrix XenDesktop 7.8 HDX Display performance improvements

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
Installation and Configuration of Citrix XenApp & XenDesktop 7.8 AppDisks and AppDNA by Citrix CTP Dane Young
Citrix XenApp 7.8 and XenDesktop 7.8 released by Alexander Ervik Johnsen

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.

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Announcing Remote Display Analyzer

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.

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Citrix HDX 3D Pro and Nvidia Grid Browser experience

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.

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Citrix Provisioning Services vs Machine Creation Services 2014 revision

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.

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Citrix XenDesktop 7 Advanced Image Management

With the release of Citrix XenDesktop 7 two provsioning methods are now available which fully support  hosted shared (HDC) and hosted private (HDC). The first provisioning method is Citrix Provisioning Services (PVS) and the second is Machine Creation Services (MCS).

There are a couple of important differences between the two provisioning methods which you need to know before choosing the right method for your design. In one of my earlier articles I showed a decision tree which helps choosing between both methods. I would recommend to read this great article about storage resource usage, by Nick Rantalan, as well.

This article focusses on a very important difference between Citrix Provisioning Services and Machine Creation Services, Advanced Image Management.

Advanced Image Management

Advanced Image Management (AIM) is more than simply assigning an image to a specific machine or a group of machines. It’s about a proper way of upgrading and assigning images according to DTP principles in a simple and time efficient manner. Automation plays an important part of AIM as it saves time and more importantly leaves out the possibility of human errors. Andrew Morgan wrote an excellent article about why you want to prevent human errors by using automation.

PVS offers great image versioning functionality, automated DTP and even automated image updates with the integration of third party solutions like Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager. This Citrix article explains the functionality in fine detail.

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Citrix XenDesktop 7 VDA installation issue on Windows 2008 R2

Citrix XenDesktop 7 VDA

Citrix XenDesktop 7 VDA

This will be a short article about an issue I ran into automating the Citrix XenDesktop 7 VDA installation.

As described on the Citrix edocs a silent install of the XenDesktop 7 VDA should be really straightforward. This is exactly what I was seeing when installing the VDA on Microsoft Windows 7, Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012.

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