Ramesh Guduru, Virtualization System Engineer in CSPG, UCS Product Management and DC Solutions Engineering, Cisco Systems Inc. Ramesh has more than 10 years of experience in VMware View thin client administration, configuration and optimization of virtual desktop environment, Cisco Unified Computing System and Storage. Ramesh’s skill set include core VMware applications in the virtual environment focusing in system design and implementation of virtualization components.
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Ramesh Guduru, Virtualization System Engineer in CSPG, UCS Product Management and DC Solutions Engineering, Cisco Systems Inc. Ramesh has more than 10 years of experience in VMware View thin client administration, configuration and optimization of virtual desktop environment, Cisco Unified Computing System and Storage. Ramesh’s skill set include core VMware appli
Now there is a way for users with demanding graphics processing needs to take advantage of the power and performance of virtualization. To address the requirements of these power users, Cisco is now including the NVIDIA GRID K1 and K2 cards in the Cisco Unified Computing System (Cisco UCS) portfolio of PCI Express (PCIe) cards. These cards deliver high performance when used with Cisco UCS C-Series Rack Servers. The Cisco UCS C240 M4 Rack Servers are the newest addition to the C-Series. When combined with the full-length, full-power NVIDIA GRID cards, they deliver a new kind of high performance to graphics-intensive applications. Before, it was challenging for departments with high graphics processing requirements – such as engineering, design, imaging, and marketing – to move large files easily. Now, these users can centralize their graphics workloads and files in the data center and easily shift work geographically without any limitations. With the PCIe graphics cards in the Cisco UCS C-Series, users can take advantage of: Support for full-length, full-power NVIDIA GRID cards in a 2-rack-unit (2RU) form factor Cisco UCS Manager End-to-end integration with the Cisco UCS management solutions, including Cisco UCS Central SoftwareCisco UCS Director Figure 1: The C 240 M4 NVIDIA GRID K1/K2 Card Architectural Design High-performance virtualization for graphics-intensive applications Here are a few of the capabilities of the new Cisco UCS C240 M4 server that make this platform so appealing to graphics-intensive users: This server is the newest 2-socket, 2U rack server from Cisco, designed for both performance and expandability over a wide range of storage-intensive infrastructure workloads from big data to collaboration. It offers up to two Intel Xeon processor E5-2600 or E5-2600 v2 CPUs, 24 DIMM slots, 24 disk drives, and four 1 Gigabit Ethernet LAN-on-motherboard (LOM) ports. With the NVIDIA GRID cards, this server provides more efficient rack space than the 2-slot, 2.5-inch equivalent rack unit. The Cisco UCS C240 M4 server can be used standalone, or as part of Cisco UCS solutions, which unify computing, networking, management, virtualization, and storage access into a single integrated architecture. This enables end-to-end server visibility, management, and control in both bare metal and virtualized environments. In addition, the Cisco C240 M4 server includes a modular LAN on motherboard (mLOM) slot for installation of a Cisco Virtual Interface Card (VIC) or third-party network interface card (NIC). New to Cisco rack servers, the mLOM slot can be used to install a VIC without consuming a PCIe slot, providing greater I/O expandability. The Cisco VIC 1227 incorporates next-generation converged network adapter (CNA) technology from Cisco, providing investment protection for future feature releases. It supports up to 256 PCIe interfaces to the host when configured with either NICs or HBAs. In addition, the Cisco VIC 1227 supports VM-FEX. When configuring these options on the Cisco C240, keep these NVIDIA GPU card configuration rules in mind. You can mix GRID K1 and K2 GPU cards in the same server. Do not mix GRID GPU cards with Tesla GPU cards in the same server. Do not mix different models of Tesla GPU cards in the same server. All GPU cards require two CPUs and at least two 1400W power supplies in the server. If you need to install only 1 NVIDIA K1/K2 GRID card, use PCIE slot 2. Configure PCIe slots 2 and 5 when you have 2 NVIDIA K1/K2 GRIDs. Support for all deployment methods With the high-processing capacity of the Cisco UCS C240 M4, all three deployment methods from NIVIDA are supported. Deployment capabilities Here are a few of the capability highlights of each deployment method, including the DirectX APIs and OPEN GL requirements. Table 1: GPU Deployment and Supported Applications You can download the required drivers from the NVIDIA website using the links provided here. Table 2: Driver Links vDGA Configuration Here is an example of how to configure the vDGA or pass-through GPU deployment on an ESXi server. Select the VMware ESXi host, choose Configuration, select the Hardware tab, and choose Advanced Settings > Configure Pass-through. Figure 3: vDGA Configuration vSGA Configuration Here is the second deployment method vSGA or virtualized software graphics acceleration. You can change the virtual machine for vSGA mode by selecting “Software” for graphics sharing. Figure 4: Editing Virtual Machine Properties for vSGA vGPU Configuration The NVDIA GRID vGPU deployment, which is NVIDIA’s newest release, allows multiple virtual desktops to share a single physical GPU, and multiple GPUs to reside on a single physical PCI card. This provides 100% application compatibility of vDGA pass-through graphics, but at a lower cost, as multiple desktops can share a single graphics card via PCI shared mode. In this configuration, you will need drivers for both the ESXi host and the virtual machine. The download package (see above, Table 2) comes with files for each driver. You can select a shared PCIe device K2 card that is installed on the Cisco C240 server for different users. For more information on GPU user profiles visit: http://www.nvidia.com/object/virtual-gpus.html . Figure 5: vGPU Profiles for the Virtual Machine Here are the recommended Cisco C240 M4 BIOS settings for the GPU deployment. Figure 6: C240 M4 BIOS settings For more information This platform from Cisco, NVIDIA, and VMware provides a high-performance platform for virtualizing graphics-intensive applications. To learn more, you can review the full reference architecture here: http://www.cisco.com/c/en/us/products/collateral/servers-unified-computing/ucs-c-series-rack-servers/whitepaper-c11-735450.html
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Taking VDI to the Edge: A Cisco-Nimble Smart Stack Bundle for Remote or Branch Offices IT has always been challenged as to how to support remote or branch offices (ROBO) with the same kind of excellent user experiences that the Cisco Unified Computing System (UCS) delivers from centralized data centers. Up until now, there simply hasn’t been a ROBO compute and storage platform that made economical sense. But with the help of Nimble Storage and VMware virtual desktops, locations with up to 750 to 900 users can have the power of Cisco UCS at an economical price point. How does this work? The key is Cisco UCS Mini, an edge-scale solution that is optimized specifically for remote or branch offices. This offering—which includes the robust management capabilities provided by Cisco UCS Manager—delivers servers, storage, and 10 Gigabit networking in an easy-to-deploy, compact form factor. Combine this powerful system with a Nimble Storage system and VMware Horizon 6 with View virtual desktops, and you now have a Cisco UCS Mini Smart stack performance bundle. Performance remotely delivered, centrally controlled Not only does this bundle deliver excellent end-user performance, but it is also cost-effective, making it an ideal solution for remote or branch offices. And it can be easily controlled and managed from a main data center using Cisco UCS Central software along with Cisco Fabric InterConnect technology in the Cisco UCS Mini chassis. So whether there is a need for a solution in one location or many, they can all be managed through a single plane of glass as if they were part of a central data center. And for added flexibility, this self-contained desktop virtualization solution can support hundreds of users in a mixed workload virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) that best fits their organizations. For instance, companies can run both full virtual desktops for users that need power and flexibility, as well as lighter-weight Remote Desktop Session Hosts (RDSH) on the same server. Add in the Nimble Storage CS300 array and customers now get a powerful, agile storage platform too. Configured to perform in a variety of remote scenarios To illustration the power of this solution, Cisco tested various configurations, all of which delivered excellent end-user performance and demonstrated the flexibility that this bundle provides (click here for the full results). One of the most significant configurations used a mixed workload. In this scenario, up to 350 mixed-use-case virtual desktop users can be included, with non-persistent linked clone-based virtual desktops and newly supported VMware Horizon View based RDSH–server desktops. This was the first time this configuration, which ran on a four-blade Cisco UCS Mini using Cisco UCS B200 M3 Blade Servers with a Nimble Storage system, was tested – and the results were impressive. We discover that, based on a single server linked clone and RDSH recommended workload data, this solution could easily scale to 750 to 900 users, depending on the mix using the same blade server configuration. We also configured RDSH sessions with 150 VMware Horizon 6 with View RDSH desktops on two Cisco UCS B200 M3 Infrastructure Blade Servers that hosted all infrastructure services as well. In addition, we tested a configuration of only non-persistent desktops to show multiple-server scalability for 250 Microsoft Windows 7 virtual desktops on two Cisco UCS B200 M3 Blade Servers. And finally, we used a single Cisco UCS B200 M3 blade server running VMware Horizon 6 with View RDSH virtual machines to show a configuration that can support 140 user sessions. And there’s more to come! Cisco UCS Mini and Nimble Storage together are an excellent solution for remote or branch offices hosting VMware Horizon–based virtual desktops. And we’re going to keep making this a better offering for you. As we speak, there are new enhancements for the Cisco UCS Mini in the works and soon to be released. And in the upcoming months, you’ll see support for Cisco UCS B200 M4 server, N-Port virtualization (NPV), HTML5 interface, and for different storage providers. In addition, there will be chassis expansion to support more servers in the architecture. To learn more and find out the full test results, download the configuration guide: Cisco UCS Mini, Nimble Storage, and VMware Horizon 6 with View Mixed Workload on Cisco UCS B200 M3 Blade Servers . Besides extensive graphs of the performance tests, it shows hybrid logical and physical diagrams of the various configurations with step-by-step guidance for deploying this solution in a remote or branch office. And you can learn more about the Cisco UCS Mini here .
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