This entry is part 2 of 5 in the series Custom RemoteFX RDS Farm

Following on from my first post I am going to look at what will make up by RemoteFX RDS farm including the software and hardware architecture.

First I’ve started out as you would with any small RDS farm; in this case with 4 session hosts and a single connection broker (which will also act as licence server). The 30 endpoints are pointed at the connection broker which then decides which session host they should be logging into.

In my case the servers have only 2 hops between themselves and the endpoints over a fibre optic to a local network switch and then down copper 10/100mb to the client. For the time being the endpoints are just re purposed PCs however we hope to replace them with dedicated thin clients (mainly for power saving reasons) in the next few months.

The connection broker will be hosted as a virtual machine on one of our Hyper-V servers however to make use of RemoteFX technology (will go into this in a little more depth in a later post) the session hosts will all be running directly off physical hardware.

The hardware requirements for RemoteFX are quite specific but not all that hard to meet using even desktop PC parts. The key thing is the CPU must support something called Streaming SIMD Extensions 2 (SSE2), in this case I will be using AMD A8 Fusion APUs which do indeed support this feature. One thing to point out that also a GPU certainly helps (video decoding ect) its not a necessity however if you want any kind of semi decent performance you will want one. This differs from RemoteFX for VDI which does require a GPU and can even do 3D acceleration (RemoteFX for RDS Session Host only does 2D and no Aero Glass).

The full hardware specifications for the session hosts is below

  • AMD Fusion A8-3870K Black Edition 3.0GHz APU
    • AMD Fusion APUs have both a powerful CPU and a GPU on a single chip, this is important for RemoteFX to ensure a smooth user experience
  • ASRock A75M-ITX AMD A75 Motherboard
    • In our custom servers I will be putting two motherboards in side by side – the only way to achieve this is using ITX motherboards like these
  • Corsair Vengeance Blue 8GB 1600mhz RAM
    • I’ve worked on the premise of 2GB of RAM per CPU core in these servers, the idea will be to scale out our Architecture instead of scale up so there’s no need for much more RAM than this
  •  OCZ Vertex 4 128GB SSD
    • Instead of running 15k HDDs in RAID I have opted for a single SSD per server, the average user won’t use even a fraction of the speed of a SSD and it would be hard for even a large number of users to max out a modern SSD
  • X-Case RM 206 HS SATA3 Case
    • With a SATA3 back plane I can max out the SSDs, this very versatile case will make it easy to customise to my cookie sheet server design
  • 1U Seasonic SS-300M PSU
    • This small form factor 1U PSU can be double stacked inside the case and so be able to power both motherboards
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5 Responses to Custom RemoteFX RDS Farm – Farm Architecture + Hardware Specs

  • Andy B says:

    Hi James. I was under the impression that to make use of RemoteFX and GPU acceleration you had to run each host as a virtualised windows 2008 server under HyperV.

    Is this the case? Or can you run the hosts as physical boxes by just wacking a 2008 server CD in and installing?

    Reason I ask is I prefer RDP servers to be physical hosts. Virtualised host don’t seem to work quite as well and don’t seem to make quiet as good use of the hardware IMHO.

    Would appreciate any feedback you have – and thanks for putting all these blogs and videos up they are very useful.

    Cheers. Andy.

    • James Preston says:

      Hi Andy,

      The crux of it is there are two types of RemoteFX (at least in Windows 7/Server 2008 R2).

      The first and most basic type is RemoteFX under Remote Desktop Services (Server 2008 R2). This type allows the GPU to look after 2D graphics but will not allow 3D (so no Aero/Crysis playing).

      The second type is full on virtual GPUs exposed to Windows 7 virtual machines. This type can do full on 3D graphics and will even let you play games through a RDP session.

      Having even the basic type of RemoteFX on our clients has been very useful to us in respects to better video play back and even better performance from applications like Adobe Photoshop.

      If you want 3D graphics (CAD/CAM/Gaming) though you will have to host Windows 7 VMs which will have a vGPU assigned against it.
      While you could probably host 2 or 3 VMs on one of the servers in the style I have built there would be much better options out there.

      Hope this helps!
      James

  • Andy B says:

    Hi James.

    Thanks for that very useful info. It’s so handy to have a Yes/No from someone who has done it in a school rather than reading through page after page of googling. So RemoteFX under Remote Desktop Services (Server 2008 R2) sound like just what I need in order to accelerate 2d apps and flash websites. I’ve been running 2003 RDP servers since 2007 and have had several new apps (and old apps, actually) etc which are putting more and more strain.

    Will give a RemoteFX 2d trial a go on a workstation with a Nvidia GPU and 2008 R2 on it.

    Many Thanks for the helpful info.

    Andy

    • James Preston says:

      Never a problem – do give it a go and if you can post up the results somewhere, always good to hear what others are up to!

      James

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