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June 4, 2014

RemoteFX and Dell Hardware Power Management

VDI (virtual desktop infrastructure) can bring great benefits to organizations through consolidated management, reduced hardware maintenance, better remote connectivity and support, and environmental friendliness, to name a few. However, nothing will kill it faster than a hoard of users wishing for their old hardware back, because the new “thing” is too slow.

For many in the field, the first warning is the storage. Monday morning boot storms (or patching, virus scans, etc) can take spinning disks to their knees. I recalling hearing the prophecies all the way back at VMworld 2008. VDI has come a long way since then–so far, in fact, that we ask and even expect streaming video from our virtual desktops (thank you, Teradici and RemoteFX).

fishbowlfirefliesDuring our RemoteFX pilot (on Hyper-V 2012 R2), we started out with mediocre NVIDIA Quadro K4000 GPUs, but learned our error and quickly swapped those for the GRID K2’s. Surely that would bring us the fish and fireflies that everyone else was seeing in their performance tests.

Try as we might, we just couldn’t get consistent results. The best GPUs just weren’t performing.

Then we found the power. Power Management, that is. Dell ships several BIOS power profile configurations from the factory, but all of them seem to be Dell-flavored. “Enhanced” Turbo Boost, Dell Active Power Controller, etc. All of them are bad news for virtualization. DAPC bit us on a prior vSphere server cluster, so we went with “High Performance” when we ordered.

“High” brought us low. GPU power fluctuated, graphics glitched. Finally we switched it to plain old vanilla “Performance”. That disabled C1E and C States (which are known to have Live Migration impacts as well), and all of a sudden, the GRID K2’s started flying. Fish filled the bowl and fireflies the sky.

r720_power_mgmt

We’re still working working with Microsoft on some other RemoteFX and GPU issues that happen when we attempt a Live Migration of running virtual desktops, but while they remain on-box, they see the consistent power of the GRID.

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By Chris Gurley, MCSE, CCNA
Last updated: June 4, 2014

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