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.

Together with Bram Wolfs we have recently launched a new tool called Remote Display Analyzer. With Remote Display Analyzer we have a tool which can be used for Citrix HDX Display encoder analysis. It shows us realtime resource utilisation, like CPU/Memory and Bandwidth, for the active display encoder.

Remote Display Analyzer Citrix Thinwire H264

The demo environment I’ll be using for the Citrix HDX display performance analysis is based on:

  • Server: Dell R730, Intel E5-2660 V3 and  a Nvidia K2 in Passthrough Mode
  • Citrix XenApp server: Microsoft Windows 2012 R2 with 4 vCPU and 16 GB memory on Atlantis USX storage.
  • Citrix version: Citrix XenApp 7.7 and XenApp 7.8
  • Video: Big Buck Bunny running @720P

Citrix XenApp 7.7 FrameHawk with default setting.

Citrix XenApp 7.8 FrameHawk with default setting.

Concluding on Citrix HDX Display Framehawk performance improvements

As you can clearly see in the above video comparison Citrix has made a huge improvement to the Framehawk encoder in Citrix XenDesktop 7.8. Although this test is way to limited for statistical analysis but it does come very close to what Citrix claims it to be.

Citrix XenApp 7.7 Thinwire Compatibility mode with default setting.

Citrix XenApp 7.8 Thinwire Compatibility mode with default setting.

Concluding on Citrix HDX Display Thinwire Compatibility mode performance improvements

As you can clearly see in the above video comparison Citrix has made some improvements to the Thinwire Compatibility encoder in Citrix XenDesktop 7.8. We can clearly see that memory usage is somewhat lower, about 5% and it seems to be somewhat more efficient on CPU resources as well. The differences seem not as huge as compared to Framehawk but it’s still great to see they are still working on the efficiency of the encoders.

About Barry Schiffer

Barry is an IT Architect with 15 years of IT experience. He has gained both a broad and deep knowledge in the sphere of IT. Throughout the years, Barry has developed into a specialist in the field of Microsoft Windows, Server Based Computing, desktop and server virtualisation.Barry is co-founder and member of the Board of the Dutch Citrix User Group.Barry is awarded with the Citrix Technology Professional award in 2015 and received the RES Software Valued Professional award in 2012.
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