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Performance benefits of GPU-accelerated Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) for the modern digital workforce.

GPU Acceleration makes remote work possible for any user, in any industry.

The need for accelerated application performance, productivity, and employee satisfaction has never been greater. Across every industry, user, and location, GPU-accelerated VDI can enable IT teams to take control of their remote workforces in a cost-effective way, while enabling remote work for employees typically not capable of doing so in the past, due to technology limitations.

Organizations must reimagine work practices to be more dynamic between remote and on-premises models. This will allow them to not only recover from the current challenges they face, but will result in their resiliency in the future.

There is a renewed demand for VDI technology as millions of employees rely on in-office-like performance, and organizations seek cost-effective ways to provide it. In 2020, the pandemic forced Canada’s remote workforce to swell to40% from a mere 10% in a matter of just weeks, acting as an impromptu proof of concept to those employers who were weary of using the remote work model.

Executive Summary

In 2020 the world witnessed the single largest sudden shift to remote work in history. This, combined with major advancements of media-rich technologies and the way modern remote workers use them to get work done, presents organizations with significant productivity and security challenges. Here, we examine how evolving virtualized infrastructure, operating systems, and applications now depend on accelerated performance technologies, and how IT teams are using GPU-accelerated VDI to deliver optimal performance, security, and productivity throughout the entire organization, regardless of industry, user role or application requirements. Our SWIFT VDI addresses the following:

  • The modern app era and the increased demand for GPU performance
  • Evolution of user performance for knowledge worker and power user profiles
  • GPU acceleration’s role in today’s modern digital workforce
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In a recent study, 83 percent of organizations reported that they will continue to support and develop better work from home policies. The demand for IT teams that support remote users has never been higher.

GPU Heavy Software Logos

Understanding User Roles

Employees are embracing the shift to remote work as well. If given the appropriate productivity tools and in-office-like performance, 89% of the employees reported that they would rather continue working offsite.

IT teams are now tasked with their biggest challenge: providing remote workers throughout the organization, with in-office like performance, security and productivity tools that are cost-effective as well as scalable, without eliminating a percentage of employees due to technology constraints previously encountered.

Before rolling out any VDI deployment, we need to understand who these users are and what technology will enable them to propel forward in their roles.

User Roles and Graphics Rich Applications – the need for GPU-accelerated VDI

One of the most important considerations when planning VDI architectures, is what type of worker profile will be using the virtual desktop and what applications will they require. Two of the most important roles in today’s organizations are the knowledge worker and the power user. Both of these roles are benefiting from the advancement of graphics-rich applications and computational performance, but this also causes a challenge when enabling them with superior performance in a virtual work setting. Before we talk about how GPU can enhance their user experience, let’s take a quick look at each role, and the applications they currently use.

The Knowledge Worker

Knowledge workers account for over 1 Billion of the global workforce and their requirements for an optimized virtual desktop that can handle dynamic, graphics-intensive workloads are a reality. Their daily tasks include accessing the Internet, using email, and creating complex documents, presentations, and spreadsheets. Their roles include accountants, sales managers, marketing research analysts, and other disciplines such as development engineers and health care practitioners. In the past 12 months, there has been a dramatic shift in the required applications knowledge workers must use, as team collaboration has been pushed into the virtual realm. Video technologies such as Microsoft Teams, Zoom and Slack to name a few, have seen exponential growth in the market and are very media-rich applications. The average knowledge worker uses 6 applications on a daily basis, and 68% of them reported that number is only going to go up, now that they are working in a virtual desktop environment.

Security Risks
GPU acceleration helps bolster cyber security by providing workers with the performance they need to run applications within the VDI environment, without the use of unknown applications that present a threat to corporate security.

Video Rich technology seeing exponential growth
By 2022, online videos are projected to account for more than 82 percent of all consumer internet traffic.5 Considering that most applications are now cloud-based, GPU-accelerated VDI will be a persistent need for users to collaborate securely within their VDI environment.

The Power User

The Architecture, Engineering and Construction (AEC) industries, among others, are heavily dominated by roles classified by VDI specialists as power users. Traditionally these workers require heavy graphics-intensive applications, and it was not possible to give them an optimized in-office-like experience with an entirely remote virtual setup. It has not been financially viable for organizations to enable these users to work remotely, due to the expensive hardware requirements they would have to provide at each of their remote locations.

Remote worker tech trends

  • Remote access to information
  • Accelerated access to information
  • Multiple monitors and high-resolution displays
  • Optimized web browsers
  • 5 x higher consumption of video content, accounting for 82% of all web traffic by 2022

Key Takeaways

Outstanding performance
The most notable result with a vGPU VDI desktop was being able to run video that can accomplish extremely high frame-per-second (FPS) rates and video resolutions which could normally only be accomplished on a physical high-performance workstation built for power users. This is critical for location-independent work.

Seamless integration
Seamless integration between the virtual desktop and the physical GPU beneath the virtual abstraction layer, which typically induces much latency to any similar configuration, however, the abstraction is unnoticed by both user and applications which require a performance GPUinstalled and recognized. In short, a power user should not be able to distinguish between a vGPU enabled VDI desktop and that of their typical physical setup.

FPS Score

GPU Acceleration Benchmark Testing

Shift-IT Solutions have conducted a series of benchmark tests in order to evaluate the performance differences between a standard VDI desktop and a GPU-enabled VDI desktop. The results conclude that GPU acceleration is a key enabler that provides a best-in-class end user experience and an in-office-like experience with rich media, graphic-intensive workloads and GPU-reliant software.

Here we detail the setup and the results of the benchmark testing:

Setup

  • GPU Hardware: Nvidia physical GPU in VMWare host server
  • GPU Configuration: Nvidia Grid T4
  • Benchmarking tools/software version: Unigine Heaven Benchmark 4.0
  • Environment: Windows 64bit Guest OS VDI• Workload information: Single Engine & Shared Engine Testing
  • Key parameters: Several resolutions tested to discover FPS responses• VDI Desktop: 64bit, 8GB RAM, 4 vCPU @2.7GHz

Results
Although vGPU VDI desktops are not architected at Shift-IT Solutions to enable gameplay, we did follow industry best practices to put the vGPU enabled desktop through the most rigorous testing possible. That included using benchmarking tools typically built to showcase the capabilities of a gaming desktop, due to the most demanding GPU resources throughout the industry, with the highest requirements for FPS response. We first tested with FULL HD resolution set at 1920×1080 using standard OpenGL rendering with quality settings on High. The impressive results included an FPS score of 63.3 and an overall Unigine Heaven benchmark of 1593. If you consider that most HD television and recording is done at 24FPS, this is an incredible feat, however highly unlikely to be utilized within a virtual desktop environment. There are corner cases where we are seeing requests for graphics and video development, and we needed to confirm the support for the most demanding users that might exist within an organization.

There is no doubt that the capabilities of a Shift-IT Solutions vGPU enabled VDI desktop is more than capable of providing the most demanding power users with a workplace-like desktop experience, however, there is one more critical user experience aspect that we had to take into consideration how will this perform with multiple applications running on a users’ desktop that require GPU graphic performance.

This led us to push the desktop to limits that likely would never be encountered, by running 4 simultaneous Unigine Heaven benchmarking instances on the same desktop at the same time. We did lower the resolution to 640×480, as the testing was about sharing the vGPU load on the desktop, but we did however not lower the quality of the video.

The outcome of this testing was equally as impressive as a single instance workload, with the overall average across all 4 instances achieving an incredible 31.275 FPS. Each instance being able to maintain above 24 FPS is much greater than multiple applications running simultaneously should ever require.

GPU Acceleration Benchmark VDI for the Modern Digital Workforce

It is projected that by 2026, 30% of the share of remote work will be supported by VDI technology.6 Remote workers expect nothing but in-office like performance from their VDI experience, no matter what industry they tend to work in. Bad user experiences can lead to low productivity, employee dissatisfaction and ultimately, talent and profit loss.

Evolving applications across the board require more powerful GPU performance. GPU acceleration is key in supporting this reliance on VDI to deliver a great user experience without sacrificing security. IT teams can deliver support to employees who work remotely and require workstation-class performance, even for the most graphic-intensive and graphic-reliant workloads.

Benefits

  • Substantially reduced infrastructure costs
  • Accelerated data analytics
  • Streamlined VDI adoption
  • Increased productivity for all user types
  • Optimized application performance

Next Steps with Shift IT Solutions

Shift-IT Solutions has architected our client VDI infrastructure to provide seamless office-like remote work experiences for both knowledge and power users alike, allowing you to focus on your business without the burden or cost associated to provisioning and managing remote workers with dedicated workstations.

With the recent increase in work from anywhere requirements, increasing at an unparalleled rate due to the pandemic, we are here to help make a seamless transition to support your employees and these challenging requirements.

To receive a no obligation, no cost assessment and realize howShift-IT Solutions can help your organization overcome the hurdles of remote workers and their graphic intensive requirements, please reach out today!

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