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Hardware Considerations for RemoteFX

Updated: February 8, 2011

Applies To: Windows Server 2008 R2 with SP1

Microsoft® RemoteFX™ enables a rich 3-D experience in virtual desktop scenarios. RemoteFX is integrated into the Remote Desktop Virtualization Host role service, and IT administrators can provide 3-D capabilities to client computers (including thin clients). This topic provides hardware considerations for server and client computers when you are planning your RemoteFX deployment.

In this topic:

There are several hardware requirements that must be met when you deploy a RemoteFX server:

  • SLAT-enabled processor   The processor in the RemoteFX server must support Second-Level Address Translation (SLAT). In virtualization scenarios, hardware-based SLAT support improves performance. On Intel processors, this is called Extended Page Tables (EPT), and on AMD processors, it is called Nested Page Tables (NPT).

  • GPU   At least one graphics processing unit (GPU) is required on the RemoteFX server. The GPU driver must support DirectX 9.0c and DirectX 10.0. If more than one GPU is installed in the RemoteFX server, the GPUs must be identical. The GPU must have sufficient dedicated video memory that is separate from system memory.

    ImportantImportant
    For a list of GPUs that will work with RemoteFX in Windows Server 2008 R2 with SP1, see the blog post More partner momentum around Microsoft RemoteFX in Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 Beta (http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkID=197416).

    The final release of Windows Server 2008 R2 with SP1 will include an evolved list of GPUs. For a list of recommended GPU drivers, see the blog post Beta testing Microsoft RemoteFX in Service Pack 1 (http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkID=197417).

  • RemoteFX encoder   The RemoteFX encoder is optional and can be installed for additional scalability on the Microsoft® RemoteFX™ server.

  • Hyper-V   The Hyper-V hardware requirements must be supported on the server. The Hyper-V hardware requirements for Windows Server 2008 R2 are available in the Windows Server 2008 R2 Technical Library (http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkID=180919).

ImportantImportant
To use Live Migration, the source and destination RemoteFX servers must have the same GPU installed.

As the maximum monitors and resolutions are increased for each RemoteFX-enabled virtual machine, the amount of required video memory also increases. The GPUs in the server must have sufficient video memory for all virtual machines that are turned on at the same time. The following is a list of video memory requirements for a maximum resolution and number of monitors:

 

Maximum resolution Maximum number of monitors in virtual machine setting

1 monitor

2 monitors

3 monitors

4 monitors

1024 x 768

75 MB

105 MB

135 MB

165 MB

1280 x 1024

125 MB

175 MB

225 MB

275 MB

1600 x 1200

184 MB

257 MB

330 MB

N/A

1920 x 1200

220 MB

308 MB

N/A

N/A

noteNote
In addition to the previous video memory table, Windows Server 2008 R2 with SP1 has been tested for up to 12 virtual machines per GPU, for a total of 24 virtual machines on two physical GPUs, providing the necessary dedicated video memory. This number will continue to be refined in later releases.

A baseboard management controller is used to remotely manage the server, such as remotely configuring a server’s BIOS or viewing the server’s console. Some examples of baseboard management controllers include the Dell iDRAC, the IBM IMM, and the HP iLO. For more information about WDDM drivers can be found in the Windows Server Technical Library (http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=209889).

RemoteFX requires a WDDM driver for the GPU installed on the server, but baseboard management controllers likely use an XPDM driver for its integrated video adapter. A video adapter that uses an XPDM driver and a video adapter that uses a WDDM driver cannot be simultaneously running. When a user connects to a baseboard management controller with RemoteFX enabled, the display for the server’s console will not be visible while the operating system is running.

noteNote
Any GPUs with an XPDM driver must be disabled through the BIOS or by using the RemoteFX cap driver. This includes baseboard management controllers that are used for KVM over IP. For more information about installing the RemoteFX cap driver, see Installing the RemoteFX cap driver later in this topic. For more information about disabling a GPU in the BIOS, consult the manufacturer.

When to use the RemoteFX cap driver

The RemoteFX cap driver allows you to use a baseboard management controller to view the server console during the BIOS sequence, while in safe mode, or when the Windows operating system stops unexpectedly and an error message appears on a blue screen.

ImportantImportant
If you install the RemoteFX cap driver, the integrated video adapter is disabled while the operating system is running.

The following table provides considerations for whether to use the RemoteFX cap driver. Each row is a separate option for how to enable RemoteFX when using a baseboard management controller that uses an XPDM driver.

 

Option Is the console visible by using a baseboard management controller or KVM?

BIOS

Safe mode

Windows is running

The integrated video adapter that uses an XPDM driver is disabled in the server’s BIOS.

No

No

No. (The server can be viewed by using an RDP connection but not through the baseboard management controller.)

An external KVM is connected to the GPU on the RemoteFX server, which uses a WDDM driver. The integrated video adapter that uses an XPDM driver is disabled in the BIOS.

Yes

Yes

Yes. (The server can be viewed through the external KVM or by using an RDP connection.)

The RemoteFX cap driver is installed and the integrated onboard video adapter remains enabled.

Yes

Yes

No. (The server can be viewed by using an RDP connection but not through the baseboard management controller.)

Installing the RemoteFX cap driver

Before installing the RemoteFX cap driver, the WDDM driver for the video adapter should be installed and RemoteFX should be enabled. When installing the RemoteFX cap driver, ensure that the following steps are completed in order:

  1. Install the WDDM driver for the video adapter.

  2. Enable RemoteFX by using Server Manager.

  3. Install the RemoteFX cap driver.

To install the RemoteFX cap driver, type the following at a command prompt: dism /online /enable-feature /featurename:Microsoft-Windows-RemoteFX-EmbeddedVideoCap-Setup-Package, press ENTER, and then restart the computer.

ImportantImportant
In some cases, the RemoteFX cap driver may be installed on video adapters other than the integrated video adapter. To resolve this issue, you must reinstall the WDDM video adapter drivers.

You may choose to disable the RemoteFX cap driver to troubleshooting issues on the RemoteFX server. To disable the RemoteFX cap driver, type the following at a command prompt: dism /online /disable-feature /featurename:Microsoft-Windows-RemoteFX-EmbeddedVideoCap-Setup-Package, press ENTER, and then restart the computer.

If you are using RemoteFX on an RD Session Host server, the processor on the RD Session Host server must support Streaming SIMD Extensions 2 (SSE2). The RemoteFX encoder is optional server hardware, and it can be installed for additional scalability on the RemoteFX server. The hardware encoder card must be installed in a PCI Express x4 slot or greater.

A RemoteFX-enabled client can run as software or by using a RemoteFX hardware decoder.

  • The client software is part of the Remote Desktop Connection that is included with Windows Server 2008 R2 with Service Pack 1.

  • The RemoteFX hardware decoder will be available as a complete solution through Microsoft partners.

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