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Selecting Hardware for Your MultiPoint Server System

When you build a Windows MultiPoint Server 2011 system, you should select a computer that meets the system requirements. If you are deciding which components to select, consider the following:

  • The target price range of your complete solution.

  • The types of usage scenarios that your customer might expect for the MultiPoint Server system, such as whether the users are running multimedia programs, using word processing or productivity programs, or browsing the Internet.

  • Whether your scenario has large processing or memory demands.

  • The number of users who could be using the system at the same time. If you plan to have many users on your system at the same time, or users who use system-intensive programs, you should plan for more computing power for your system.

  • The purchasing and support arrangements that your organization has with hardware providers, if applicable

  • The type of stations. How many USB ports or video ports do you need?

  • Future expansion plans. Do you plan to add stations to the MultiPoint Server system at a later date? Will you have enough video card slots or USB ports? How many additional users will your hardware need to support?

  • Physical layout. For more information, see MultiPoint Server Site Planning.

A MultiPoint Server system typically includes the following components:

  • One computer that is running MultiPoint Server, which includes a CPU, RAM, hard disk drives, and video cards.

  • A monitor, station hub, keyboard, and mouse for each station.

  • Optional peripheral devices for the MultiPoint Server stations, including speakers, headphones, microphones, or storage devices that are available only to the user of the station.

  • Optional peripheral devices that are available to all users of the MultiPoint Server system, including printers, external hard disk drives, and USB storage devices.

The following sections in this topic provide detailed information about the hardware decisions that you can make:

Selecting a CPU

A MultiPoint Server system is a multiple-user environment, with all users connected to a single host computer. This increases the CPU usage because all users share the same computer. Some tasks, such as multimedia programs (for example, Adobe Flash Player or video-editing software), have larger processing demands. Therefore, make sure to select a CPU that can handle the processing requirements for the number of users and types of user scenarios that it will need to support.

MultiPoint Server requires an x64-based CPU, and must meet the system requirements for the computer as described in the Hardware Requirements and Performance Recommendations section in this document.

The following types of processors have been tested to be used on a MultiPoint Server system with high-demand processing programs, such as multimedia programs:

  • Dual-core processor: Can support up to four stations.

  • Quad-core processor: Can support up to six.

  • Six-core processor: Can support up to 14 stations.

  • Quad-core processor with multithreading: Can support up to 20 stations.

With this information, select a CPU that meets the processing requirements for your MultiPoint Server system.

Selecting hardware components

When you are building a MultiPoint Server system, consider the following hardware components that you may need:

  • Video hardware

  • MultiPoint Server station hardware

    • USB hubs

    • USB zero clients

    • Keyboards and mouse devices

    • Monitors

  • Peripheral devices

    • Audio devices, such as speakers and headphones

    • Microphones

    • USB mass storage devices

When you have selected the hardware components for your MultiPoint Server system, make sure that you obtain current, updated drivers for the components.

The following topics provide detailed information to help you select components for your MultiPoint Server system:

Selecting video hardware

Selecting direct-video-connected or USB zero client station devices

Selecting other station peripheral devices

Selecting RDP-over-LAN-connected station hardware

Selecting audio devices

Selecting video hardware

The video hardware that you select should support the number of monitors that you will require for the number of users you intend to have working at MultiPoint Server stations. In addition, different types of video hardware can provide a higher-performance solution for graphics-intensive programs, such as multimedia content.

Select the video hardware that can support the maximum number of monitors for the type of performance that your MultiPoint Server system requires. Make sure that you validate the performance of the video hardware that you choose to ensure that it meets your performance requirements.

noteNote
You should install a video driver that supports extending your desktop across multiple monitors.

Video hardware options include:

  • Internal video cards that use a PCI or a PCIe bus interface

  • External video controllers connected that are by USB

The following sections describe the capabilities of each of these video hardware types. You can combine internal video cards and external video controllers to create the system that you want.

Internal video cards

An internal video card is plugged-in to the motherboard on the computer. The internal video card is a solution that can help the performance of graphics-intensive multimedia programs. However, an internal video card requires an available PCI or PCIe slot to plug-in to the motherboard. Many high-performance video cards require a PCIe slot, but there are a limited number of PCIe slots on a motherboard. You should know what kind of video card slots are available on your computer so that you can purchase the correct type of video cards.

The number of monitors that can connect to each video card depends on the GPU that is used on the card and the number of ports it supports, which typically ranges from 2 to 6.

When you are selecting internal video cards, select video cards that support the number of monitors required to create the desired number of direct video connected stations. The maximum number of monitors that can be supported is equal to the number of internal video cards that are plugged-in to the motherboard multiplied by the number of monitor ports on each of those video cards. For example, if you had two internal video cards and each card had two monitor ports, you could support up to four monitors.

The interfaces on the motherboard that you select must match the interface on the video card. A PCI-Express 2.0 x8 or x16 standard video card can provide better performance for multimedia programs.

External video controllers

USB zero clients contain an external video controller to connect a monitor to the client. The USB zero client might also include connections for headphones, speakers, a microphone, or other peripheral devices.

Select a USB zero client if you want to enable support for additional monitors without opening the computer, or if you want to support more stations than available video outputs. For example, if you previously had four monitors plugged-in to internal video cards, and you want to add two more monitors, you can plug-in two external video controllers to the computer and have room for two more monitors. In this manner, you can combine a USB zero client with the video controller and not use additional PCI or PCIe slots on the motherboard.

Selecting direct-video-connected or USB zero client station devices

A MultiPoint Server station consists of a station hub or USB zero client with a keyboard and mouse plugged-in, and a monitor that is plugged-in to the host computer or in to a USB zero client. Other peripheral devices can be plugged-in to the station hub or USB zero client, but they are not required to create a MultiPoint Server station. These other peripheral devices are described in Selecting other station peripheral devices.

The devices that you select to create a MultiPoint Server station should meet minimum requirements to work with MultiPoint Server. Details about the requirements for the following MultiPoint Server station devices are provided in this topic:

Selecting USB hubs

The USB hubs that are used in a MultiPoint Server system can be a generic USB hub. Such hubs typically have four or more USB ports, and they allow multiple USB devices to be connected to a single USB port on the computer. Some other devices, such as keyboards and video monitors, may also incorporate a USB hub into their design.

An additional consideration is the use of an externally powered hub, instead of a bus-powered hub. With a bus-powered hub, the amount of current that is provided by the host computer must be sufficient to provide power to all the peripheral devices that are plugged-in to the hub, without degrading system performance. An externally powered hub allows you to connect more peripheral devices and provide sufficient power to all of them. The use of externally powered hubs can help prevent performance issues, port failures, and other intermittent issues.

When selecting a USB hub for your MultiPoint Server system, consider its use. The hub can be used as a station hub, an intermediate hub, or a downstream hub. Refer to the following table for descriptions about each hub type.

 

USB Specification Powered

Station Hub

USB 2.0 or later

Can be bus-powered unless high-powered devices will be plugged-in to it or a downstream hub will be connected to it

Intermediate Hub

USB 2.0 or later;

USB 3.0 is recommended between the server and the intermediate hub if you connect more than three USB zero clients to an intermediate hub.

Should be externally powered

Downstream Hub

USB 2.0 or later

Can be externally powered or bus powered depending on the devices that are plugged-in to the hub

Active USB Extender Cable

USB 2.0 or later

Active USB cables that include a USB hub are typically bus powered; therefore, they are not recommended for connecting station hubs to the computer.

Selecting USB zero clients

A USB zero client is a USB hub that contains a video output. Therefore, it allows a monitor to be connected to the computer through a USB connection. For more information about using USB zero clients for video, see the Selecting video hardware section in this document. A USB zero client can also enable the connection of a variety of USB and non-USB devices to the hub. USB zero clients are produced by specific hardware manufacturers, and they require installing a device-specific driver.

Selecting keyboards and mouse devices

The keyboard and mouse devices that you plug-in to the station will typically be USB devices. Some USB zero clients provide PS/2 ports, in which case, the keyboard and mouse should use PS/2 to connect to the station hub. You can also use a PS/2 keyboard and mouse if you are setting up a PS/2 direct-video-connected station.

A keyboard with an internal hub can be used as a station hub. However, all other station devices must connect to the internal hub by using ports on the keyboard. If such a keyboard is connected to the computer through another hub, that hub will be treated as an intermediate hub.

If you are using split-screen stations, you may want to consider using a mini keyboard that does not have a number pad so that the two keyboards can fit in front of the monitor.

Selecting monitors

There should be one monitor provided for each MultiPoint Server station, unless a split-screen is planned. (For more information, see Split-screen stations.) Monitors are plugged-in to the video card on the computer, the USB zero client or the LAN-based client. Any type of monitor that is supported by the video card, USB zero client, or LAN-based client can be used, including CRT monitors.

Some special monitors include an internal LAN-based client or USB zero client. Such monitors will typically include audio input/output jacks and internal USB hubs for connecting keyboards and mice. They connect to the server through a USB or a LAN connection.

Display resolution

The minimum supported resolution for a station’s display area is 512 x 768 pixels. If the MultiPoint Server system starts and finds that a station’s display area is less than the minimum resolution, a blank screen will be displayed on that station and the station will not be usable.

If a display monitor is going to be shared by two stations as split-screen stations, the minimum requirement for the display is 1024 x 768, so that the resulting individual station screen areas are at least 512 x 768. For the best split-screen user experience, a wide screen with a minimum of resolution of 1600 x 900 is recommended.

Selecting other station peripheral devices

Windows MultiPoint Server 2011 supports peripheral devices that are connected to a station hub, a USB zero client, or in some cases, directly to the computer. Some devices may be associated with a specific station. Other devices are available to every station when plugged-in directly to the computer. LAN clients can also support peripheral devices. These are typically associated with the station through the remote connection configuration tool that is specific to your LAN client.

Peripherals can be associated to a specific station or available to all stations.

Associated to a specific station   Peripherals can plug–in to a station hub, a USB zero client, or a downstream hub. A downstream hub is a hub that is plugged-in to a station hub or USB zero client to expand the number of ports that are available to the station. Devices that are only available to the station when plugged-in to a station hub are: keyboard, mouse, audio devices, USB storage device, and HID Consumer Control.

ImportantImportant
A keyboard cannot be connected to a downstream hub. If you plug-in a keyboard to a downstream hub, any peripherals that are plugged-in to the downstream hub will no longer be available to that station. This behavior allows the support of daisy-chained station hubs.

Available to all stations   Typically, a USB device that is plugged-in to the computer (for example, not through a station hub) is available to all stations. Depending on the device, it can be used by multiple users at one time, or only one user can access it at a time. The following table explains how USB devices can be accessed.

noteNote
The “Connected to Host Computer” column in the table refers to the behavior when the computer running MultiPoint Server is running in normal mode with stations. If you are running in maintenance mode, the peripherals that are plugged-in to the server behave in the same way as a standard server in a console session.

 

Connected to Host Computer Connected to Station Hub or Downstream Hub

Keyboard

Not functional, unless it is part of a PS/2 station. Refer to PS/2 stations for more information

Available to individual station

Cannot be connected to a downstream hub

Mouse

Not functional, unless it is part of a PS/2 station. Refer to PS/2 stations for more information

Available to individual station

Speaker/headphones

Not functional, unless it is part of a PS/2 station. Refer to PS/2 stations for more information

Available to individual station

USB storage device

Available to all stations

Available to individual station

HID Consumer Control

Not functional

Available to individual station

Other USB devices, such as cameras, document readers, and DVD drives

Available to all stations if supported by Windows Server 2008 R2 Remote Desktop Services

Available to all stations if supported by Windows Server 2008 R2 Remote Desktop Services

Selecting RDP-over-LAN-connected station hardware

Any LAN client that can connect to Remote Desktop Services, by using Remote Desktop Protocol 5 or later or by using a custom Remote Desktop Protocol Provider, can become a MultiPoint Server station.

For improved full screen video performance, we recommend that the client be RemoteFX capable. Refer to Hardware Requirements and Performance Recommendations.

If you want the LAN client to only be used as a MultiPoint Server station, you may want to “lock down” your LAN client. For example, configure your thin client so that it can only connect to a MultiPoint Server session, or configure your desktop computers so that access to desktop icons and Start Menu items such as a web browser is removed to prevent direct Internet access. You can make these configurations using your LAN client configuration tools or group or local policies.

Selecting audio devices

It is important to make sure that when you select audio devices, they can be plugged-in to the station hub, USB zero client or LAN client. Some USB hubs, USB zero clients, and LAN clients have an analog audio jack that can be used with traditional analog audio devices (such as headphones or earbuds). Station hubs that do not have analog jacks can use USB audio devices.

If you have configured a PS/2 direct-video-connected station by using PS/2 ports on the computer’s motherboard for the keyboard and mouse, you must use the analog audio on the computer’s motherboard in order for the audio device to be available to this station when the MultiPoint Server system is running in normal mode.

If you do not have a PS/2 direct-video-connected station, the host audio device on the system’s motherboard will be available only when the MultiPoint Server system is running in maintenance mode.

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