|As promised, reporting back regarding using VMware Horizon View and nVidia GRID for delivering remote workstations.|
What can I say, it works extremely well and considering I have editors confident to use it for mid-range production work at 50fps (not just offline), I reckon theres a good chance it will work well for VFX.
Before you all get too excited, the platform we have up is fairly narrow in its implementation. So YMMV. Were exclusively testing Win10 VMs supporting Avid MediaComposer.
Test Host:HPE DL380Gen10/2x28c/768G/5x480GB-RI-SSD-raid6/4x10G1xTeslaM60 (Big shout out to the peeps at Escape for renting us one so fast)ESXi v6.0u3
VMWare Horizon View 7.3 Security Server Connection Server Composer vCenterGRID vGPU ESXi host driverMediaComposer 8.9.2 VM edition on Win10ent VMs nVidia GRID driver Nexis 7.9 Interplay 3.4
HP t630 Thin Clients.
Dual Screen 1920x1080 fully featured Avid Media Composer will run over PCoIP native protocol consuming 8-14Mbps. The OS and app UI (mouse/key and Wacom) are imperceptible to actual hardware. Video playback in S/R mode (~quarter screen) is good to excellent. Full-screen playback at 50fps drops frames. At 25fps seems ok.
Note that this is test #1 using native PCoIP, not the supposedly much groovier VMware Blast Extreme protocol. (this has audio dropout issues currently but weve not spent much time trying to work that out.) Blast should, at least it says so on the tin, support 60fps. I've no reason to doubt that either, the cursory tests we did appear to do this, but it has other issues that I cannot resolve yet.
Using homogenous grid_M60-1q vGPUs it looks like we can run 16 VMs on a host. Though testing for that will commence in two weeks when we build out to the production host. For now Im stuck with a max of 4 due to PSU/Heat restrictions. 4 VMs run concurrently without issue and actually outperform the equivalent 4 x z440 workstations on most import/export/transcode/conform/render operations. We have seen some weirdness with real-time effects all running concurrently, and multicam is an issue (though we think not entirely related to the VMs, more network)
Its an impressive system and will scale very well. View itself is meant to be multi-site/multi-domain and has integral to it a bunch of features youd probably end up building manually if you used something else. Like its own Client>tunnel>DMZ>internal topology. Literally every component is designed with security, HA and scaling in mind.
Its also bombastically expensive at a small scale and complicated to deploy. For low-midrange workstation replacements this appears, at least for now, as a completely viable solution if you have both the scale-economics and skills on staff to justify it.
Julian FirmingerSenior Systems AdministratorUnited Broadcast FacilitiesAmsterdam, The Netherlands