back to article Who loves office space? Dell does: Virtualization to banish workstations from under desks

Dell, along with partners Nvidia and Intel, has opened a new center at its Austin, Texas, headquarters to make it easier for customers to deploy virtualized-workstation installations, and for ISVs to certify their software running on such setups. "We know this all comes down to dollars and cents," Dell's general manager for …


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  1. Martin Budden Silver badge

    Eggs in one basket

    = single point of failure?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Eggs in one basket

      Failover, meet Martin Budden. Martin Budden, meet failover.

    2. Christian Berger

      Re: Eggs in one basket

      Well just like when your fileserver fails. :)

      But seriously if you have it in-house, the chance of it failing is pretty low. And once you have an in-house failure, it's likely to be something like power which would knock out your local workstations, too.

      This won't work for "the cloud" anyhow, since there you typically don't have the multi-megabit bandwidths you'd need for that.

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

        Re: Eggs in one basket

        This won't work for "the cloud" anyhow, since there you typically don't have the multi-megabit bandwidths you'd need for that.


      2. Tom 13

        Re: likely to be something like power which

        No, it's likely to be the internet connection with your desktops still up and running. And which is typically a single point of failure.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Dell got top billing.

    The technology came from NVIDIA.

  3. Richard 12 Silver badge

    Oddly content free

    A server with the requisite power is easy, but nothing on the hard part:

    How does that remotely-rendered stuff get displayed locally quick enough not to wipe out all productivity?

    There is nothing more irritating than a machine that's a little bit behind on you, causing you to overshoot the adjustments all the time.

    There's only about a 40ms latency window to do the entire round trip before it feels "slow", and while getting a ping that low isn't too hard, this needs an entire 1080p or higher (4k?) resolution screenful of rendered content to be delivered to lots of workers in various locations at the same time.

    RDP doesn't really cope with that in my experience - at least, not on commodity networks.

    It's perfectly fine for "do this series of commands" but horrible for "up a bit, down a bit, no, looks like too far nudge it back" types of adjustments that all visual (and presumably audio) creatives do all the time.

    If they do not solve the latency problem, it simply will not be used.

    1. localzuk Silver badge

      Re: Oddly content free

      That's the thing though isn't it? Your network infrastructure should be built to provide the services you need to use. If your commodity network doesn't perform suitably, it needs upgrading to something that does.

      RDP can cope with that, if you use the latest version with RemoteFX etc... But there are other options such as Citrix ICA.

      Your best bet is to see a system in action. It can work, but it certainly isn't cheap to buy. It could, in the right circumstances, reduce TCO though.

      1. JEDIDIAH

        Re: Oddly content free

        > That's the thing though isn't it? Your network infrastructure should be built to provide the services you need to use. If your commodity network doesn't perform suitably, it needs upgrading to something that does.

        ...which is an entirely new level of pain and cost and complexity for a gain that is dubious at best.

    2. Carlie J. Coats, Jr.

      Re: Oddly content free

      Actually, for "real" interactivity you're being very generous in allowing 40 ms.

      And "workstation" is definitely higher-resolution than 1080P -- probably 2560x1600, and maybe _multiple_ such panels.


    3. Christian Berger

      Re: Oddly content free

      Well something like MJPEG can work with less than a single frame of latency (<20ms). Even if you don't transmit areas which haven't changed, you won't get higher latency.

      Of course you'd want to use specialized algorithms and maybe a slight bit of intra frame predictions, but it's a far cry from the multi-second broadcast quality. You can probably process everything you need with single frame latency.

      The downside to this is of course that the encoding is not highly efficient. A 100 MBit connection will however still get you around 10 full frame updates per second (at JPEG 10:1 compression) of a 3840*1080 screen. Considering that typically only a small part of your screen changes, and your network connection is probably gigabit Ethernet (allowing theoretical 100 full frame updates), this will most likely work.

      So, yes, this can work on the LAN and with more thought than I put into it for this comment, you can probably even make it run well enough to be practically indistinguishable from local usage.

    4. mark 63 Silver badge

      Re: Oddly content free

      " 1080p or higher (4k?) resolution screenful of rendered content to be delivered..."

      the only occasion that kind of update speed at that res is important is if these engineers and arty types are sitting there playing games.

  4. msage


    Dells answer to the local client was the FX100 . Using PCoIP rather than RDP / ICA. Was very good for the modelling data we used it for :) You do have to put a PCoIP card in the rackmount workstation too thou!


    1. JLH

      Re: teradici

      I agree with msage re. Teradici - it is a very good technology.

      they also have the Apex card for virtualised servers.

  5. John Doe 6


    ...we did that 5 years ago...

    Everybody are happy:

    no noise, less heat

    lower power consumption

    power loss != loss of work

    You've got the same desktop in Singapore as in Rio or in Copenhagen

    You've also have the same desktop on your iPAd or on your mobile Thin Client

    1. Arbee

      Re: Gee...

      Can you clarify precisely what your workloads are though? Thin client is a 50 year old idea, but doing workstation-class loads (rendering, CAD design, etc.) is a difficult thing to achieve.

      1. JLH

        Re: Gee...

        As above - Teradici PCOIP is very good for CAD workloads.

      2. Howverydare

        Re: Gee...

        Well there's a view from over a year ago.

        nVIdia have been working on VGX technology for a while now and it's publically available. Internet connection does play a part in it's usability but it's usable for a few users on a decent (FTTC/Cable) residential broadband connection. On premise virtualised workstations are now easily as good as their under-desk counterparts, as you don't have to run 10GbE down to the workstation to shift multi-gig files out to your edge network and it's cheaper in the majority of cases.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Make the server big enough

    And we will be back to the Mainframe with dumb terminals

    Isn't progress great! {}:>))

    1. Robert Moore

      Re: Make the server big enough

      Everything old is new again.

      When we finally get enough power on the desktop, we start moving the processing back into the data centre. I am still trying to figure out how this will not just recreate the problems of the dumb terminal/mainframe architecture of yesteryear.

      Any bets on how long until we start moving everything back out of the data centre and back on to the desktop?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Make the server big enough

        I'd say it takes 20-30 years before the old ideas becomes today's hot new trend.

        Just be glad we did not go back to punch cards (I think I have a few around somewhere) - or am I speaking to soon! {}:>))

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Make the server big enough

      Humm PAFEC DOGS on a Prime Mainframe -- always time to make a cup of tea -- may be more befor its ready for the next instruction.

  7. roger stillick

    Banish the Workstation from underdesk...??

    Just finished a Linux build of a laptop w/ workstation graphics n 17 in screen & ssd...

    my local SAN / printer-scanner farm will stay... and my 6 hr UPS...

    IMHO= Just banished my workstation from under my desk... to a Laptop, with benefits...

    Q= why would I want to jeapordise my IP to somewhere else ??

    Security does NOT = money savings...RS

  8. Vociferous

    You'll pry my workstation from my cold, dead, hands.

    It's MINE.

  9. cyberdemon Silver badge


    "having all of a workgroup's valuable files in a central location — architectural models, feature films, automotive designs, whatever – can significantly reduce that aforementioned IT admin's anxiety."

    I suspect the only admin whose anxiety is reduced will be the HR admin.

    The "aformentioned IT admin" will be very anxious indeed, right before he ceases to be an IT admin @:

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Anxiety

      Never mind the anxiety of a dev as to whether IT are backing up the repositories... it's nice to be able to take one's own backup, just in case.

      (learned this the hard way, IT were backing up but not verifying... on manky old worn-out tapes).

  10. Davidoff

    So Dell finally catching up to HP then

    HP offers a solution for that (RGS aka Remote Graphics, with either rack mounted workstations or ProLiant sservers with GPUs in the data center) for many years now (I remember first seeing it when the xw8400 workstations were still current which was around 2006). And according to a client who's using it it works pretty well.

    It seems the receiver license is free, and if you own a HP workstation so is the sender license.

  11. Christian Berger

    Look! It's the 1980s all over again!

    Back then many universities had X-Terminals along with normal text-based ones. You could simply go to one of those terminals and log into a larger Unix computer. Alternatively you could log into the Unix workstation somewhere in your office.

    Of course eventually local processing became more economical as local workstations became cheaper than X-terminals while networking didn't progress as fast as the rest of computing did.

    What we have now is enough power to just do video encoding on the fly. It's trivial to do some sort of H.264 with cutback motion compensation on a graphics card... without slowing it down much for other tasks.

    What could make this a booming industry would be standards. With open standards you could just access any server with any device. Just like you could use any X-terminal with just about any unixoid computer.

    1. Davidoff

      Re: Look! It's the 1980s all over again!

      The difference is that back then the graphics hardware was actually in the X-terminal (you could not use graphics hardware on the host) which is not the same as what Dell (and others) are doing here and where the idea is that all computing power (CPU + GPU) is in the host server in the data center and where the client is really primitive.

      Back in the days I had to work on a Tektronix X-terminal for which the graphics hardware had the size of a deskside drawer and which was as noisy as a server.

      1. Chemist

        Re: Look! It's the 1980s all over again!

        "Back in the days I had to work on a Tektronix X-terminal"

        You were lucky !

        We had an Evans & Sutherland vector graphics 3D screen with attached bit-slice processor AND a VAX as compute/fileserver - all in its own darkened room - now that was noisy

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    My Pet hate

    Users putting their desktop PCs on the floor is pretty ghastly anyway.

    Firstly, they hoover all the c**p out of the carpet and store it neatly inside.

    Then they block up their air filters with it and overheat.

    If that doesn't work. users then use them as foot rests.

    Then they pour coffee on them.

    Then they bury them in various items of discarded clothing.

    Finally, they stack lots of things round them to help them overheat again.

    So when I set up a new office, I get all the computers off the side of the nice big desks. I go in there the next day and get squawked at by someone complaining that they had to spend 2 hours moving the computers to the "proper" place. Where's that? Lying flat in the middle of the desks to take up the maximum space.

    Better than the floor anyway.

    This sounds like a good idea if we can deal with performance and find a big enough room for our 3,000 PCs.

    1. Howverydare

      Re: My Pet hate

      What on earth are you doing when you're running 3,000 PCs that need workstation-class graphics (to the order that these boxes are designed for)? I'm not aware of any deployments in that sort of order - but I'd be happy to be wrong.

      I suspect what's happened is actually that you've managed to completely miss the various developments of VDI of the last 5+ years.

  13. Sgt Beavis

    Interesting, but you can get up to 8 end users on a single HP WS460g8 using VMware or Citrix and dedicated GPUs. That WS460 and it's expansion blade can hold 8x Q1000m or 6x K3100m, That Q1000 would get you 64 users in a 10U space while the K3100 nets you 48 users in 10U of space.

    On top of that, you could put additional users on each blade that are not using GPUs at all. That would help get your cost per user down a bit. But that is dependent on your use case.

    disclaimer: I'm an HP employee..

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