Thin Client thoughts?

grobba

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Aug 19, 2017
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Hi all, I'm contemplating swapping out my power hungry (and noisy) workstation for a thin client of some sort using my existing ESXI server for the host VM(s).

Initially I was looking to cut power usage from my server somehow, but I don't think can get any lower than the 100W it currently runs at. Now my thought is to look at the workstation which can be on 12 hours/day (at approx. 200W), replace it with a thin client using say 10-20W and only have the server on 24/7.

I see something like a Dell/Wyse thin client suitable for CAD use can be had for around £400, however I have no idea what would be required (server end) hardware/software wise to allow connection from this to the ESXI server VM. My main interest is in 3D CAD modelling/draughting/rendering.

There doesn't seem to be too much information out there, and a local vendor advised it would cost around £40,000 to implement a single seat - basically telling me not to bother!

Wondering if anyone has successfully experimented with or has professional experience of thin clients without using VMWare horizon for example and what is required, and indeed if it is worthwhile doing, performance and power saving wise?

TIA for any thoughts or info.

Server specs.:
CPU: E5 2620 v4 with Noctua NHU9DX i4
HDD's: 6 WD 3TB Reds
SSD's :3 Samsung 850 EVO's
RAM: 4 x 16 GB ECC RAM
Additional NIC: X520 10G NIC
LSI 2008 Controller (For XPEnology)
PSU: Seasonic Prime 650W Titanium 80 Plus
(A Firepro W7100 can be taken from Workstation for passthrough to the VM).
 

apnar

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Mar 5, 2011
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how far away is your server from where you use your workstation? If it isn't too far you could simply run a video and USB cable and skip the thin client all together.
 
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talsit

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Aug 8, 2013
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Mine are about 45 cable feet away (through this, around that), I use good active HDMI and USB cables. Server is in the basement, USB hub and monitor are in the office.
 

grobba

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Aug 19, 2017
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how far away is your server from where you use your workstation? If it isn't too far you could simply run a video and USB cable and skip the thin client all together.
Thanks, didn't yeally think about something so simple TBH! I have several VM's for a Vault server, Windows 10, FreeNAS, XPEnology all running on the ESXI server, silly question perhaps, but how does one access the VM's directly from the server? I've only ever accessed from the workstation via Remote Desktop/VMware web client and Teamviewer when away from the office...

Edit - actually reading through my initial post I should've mentioned the bit about the existing VM's and wanting to access VM's from a thin client or such, sorry...
 

apnar

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Mar 5, 2011
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Just pass through the video card as you suggest above. Add a USB port or two passed through and you have pretty much direct access to the VM.
 

grobba

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Just pass through the video card as you suggest above. Add a USB port or two passed through and you have pretty much direct access to the VM.
OK, I see, I think, and with access to the VM I can in turn access the web client for ESXI management of other VM's? I think I would need to experiment with the idea to get my head round it properly! I also need to passthrough a 3DConnexion space navigator (USB), I'm guessing with the correct drivers in the VM that would work.
Thanks...
 

whitey

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Or for full on VDI/thin client utopia go all-in and deploy Horizon. Pretty simple to get going if you have an existing AD, access to vSphere licensing (VMUG Eval), zero client/s and some HW. Pretty awesome experience all-in-all and if you add the security server component you can have any device anytime/anywhere type of accessibility.
 
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grobba

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Or for full on VDI/thin client utopia go all-in and deploy Horizon. Pretty simple to get going if you have an existing AD, access to vSphere licensing (VMUG Eval), zero client/s and some HW. Pretty awesome experience all-in-all and if you add the security server component you can have any device anytime/anywhere type of accessibility.
Ideally, that would be the route I'd like to go, 'I think', but a quick look at VMware pricing and being on a budget prohibits this (Horizon standard being around £2800).

Not being conversant with the technology I was wondering what the alternatives to the VMware Horizon route was, if any. What would a Teradici PCIE remote access card do for example?
 

realtomatoes

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Ideally, that would be the route I'd like to go, 'I think', but a quick look at VMware pricing and being on a budget prohibits this (Horizon standard being around £2800).

Not being conversant with the technology I was wondering what the alternatives to the VMware Horizon route was, if any. What would a Teradici PCIE remote access card do for example?
if you sign up for VMUG Advantage you get access to EvalExperience where you get a 1 year license to pretty much everything VMware.
 

whitey

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VMUG Eval/Advantage is like $200 a year, take that route else you CAN get the direct connect agent (PM me if you need this) and just use a direct connect off a zero client such as a HP t310. This will not require any Virtual Infrastructure backend plumbing to dip your toes. Will only work via LAN or over VPN in that scenario though. I don't think the tera pcoip offload card is what you want currently. Those are BIG $$$ and useful in WAN scenario's.
 
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grobba

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if you sign up for VMUG Advantage you get access to EvalExperience where you get a 1 year license to pretty much everything VMware.
VMUG Eval/Advantage is like $200 a year, take that route else you CAN get the direct connect agent (PM me if you need this) and just use a direct connect off a zero client such as a HP t310. This will not require any Virtual Infrastructure backend plumbing to dip your toes. Will only work via LAN or over VPN in that scenario though. I don't think the tera pcoip offload card is what you want currently. Those are BIG $$$ and useful in WAN scenario's.
Thanks guys, I didn't know about the VMUG advantage scheme, so thanks for the link, I've signed up for that as $200/year seems not bad value to allow one to keep up to date with the technology.

I was looking at the Dell/Wyse 5030/7030 PCOIP zero client as it specifically mentions 3D CAD use, similar in price to the HP t310 you mention Whitey, would both the HP and the Dell/Wyse be suitable candidates for what we have discussed so far? i.e. suitable for Horizon and/or direct connect? I'd be interested in the direct connect option as well for curiosity.
The Teradici card I saw was a Tera 2220 which was £140 used, but as mentioned being new to this not even sure if that would be relevant to my needs!

Thanks again for the input...
 

RyC

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Oct 17, 2013
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If you want to go down the Horizon route (as @whitey said, you don't necessarily have to pay full price for Horizon licensing...)

I can't tell for sure whether the Firepro W7100 is compatible with Horizon (there seems to be at least one report that it works in vDGA mode). If you're only looking to virtualize one machine, you probably want to run the GPU in vDGA mode anyway, which is just direct passthrough of the GPU to a single VM. If the GPU is compatible with Horizon, you'll get GPU acceleration from the thin client, which is what you want.

However, the second limitation is the PCoIP software encoder that's built into Horizon. From my limited testing, the PCoIP software encoder (with GPU acceleration) is limited to about 30-40fps. If this enough for CAD, then you're all set.

If you need more fps, this is where that Tera 2220 host card comes in. The Tera 2220 host card is usually used for physical desktops to turn them into thin client accessible machines, but I believe it can be used for VMs too. The Tera 2220 host card is a hardware PCoIP encoder, and can encode video at a much quicker rate than the software encoder, getting you probably 60fps (and possibly more, I've never tested it myself).
 
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Rand__

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Basically this is a similar use case to gaming in VMWare, see various other threads.
You probably can get away with workstation card + passed through graphics card for VM. Not officially supported (WkstCard in VM) but kinda works - no audio iirc.
Cost - I paid €200 for WksT Card and p45 Thin Client. You can also use cheaper P25, just less monitors.

If you want the horizon way (no tricks with vm putting out graphics to monitor output or wkst card) then you need compatible graphics card that will work with passthrough and hardware acceleration (Documentation for VMware Horizon 7 version 7.0), ideally vDGA or better. The 7100 might work there.
 

whitey

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You are all much braver than I. I HATE the games VMware plays w/ graphics and had a NVIDIA Quadro 4000 at one time w/ never 100% success, then a bunch of ya'll cracked the nut/case and found out the tweaks, never had the balls to try it again. Then again I only use my Horizon VDI for light use other than my wife which does full on post-processing/digital photography work on her beast of a VDI session (screw you photoshop/lightroom, you make my servers hurt!)

If ya really wanna play NVIDIA GRID and vGPU all the way! Ladies and Gentlemen...open up your pocketbooks!

EDIT: I can run big buck bunny at 4K and it looks great on my t310 through Horizon 6.1.1. Does that count??? heh

Even recently stood up a nested env on top of my lab vSphere 6 U3 w/ a 2 node vESXi 6.5 cluster, vCenter 6.5 U1, and Horizon 7.1 and my test win10 vdi runs like a top nested and all (AKA near native it feels like to me).
 
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_alex

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Bavaria / Germany
a little bit ot:
this would be maybe the currently most promising kvm/spice based thing:

Home · Seitanas/kvm-vdi Wiki · GitHub

just found it as this thread remembered me to re-check the state of open VDI ..

Gaming quite sure will not work, but maybe single GPU into a single vm.
this also might be ok for provisioning call-center or basic office style desktops.
 

grobba

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Aug 19, 2017
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Thank you all for your input, still digesting the info.. ATM I'm thinking of progressing with a P45/7030 at around £300.oo (cheapest I could find locally). Have downloaded the Horizion components and now need to figure out how to deploy. Have got a cheapo Radeon R5 230 successfully passed through to a Windows 10 VM on ESXI 6.5 with the CAD software using hardware acceleration OK, just wondering how well this would work with the intended set-up, dual screens at 1920 x 1200.
 

Rand__

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Mar 6, 2014
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Check whether you need p45 or if p25 suffices.

You'll need AD for view, view connection server and view client, no gateway, persona mgmt or other fancy stuff
Good luck (its not hard,no worries;))
 

grobba

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Aug 19, 2017
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Check whether you need p45 or if p25 suffices.

You'll need AD for view, view connection server and view client, no gateway, persona mgmt or other fancy stuff
Good luck (its not hard,no worries;))
Pulled the trigger on the P45. Thanks for the morale boost BTW, I know where to come if/when I get stuck...! Fallen at the first hurdle though - AD? Got a bit of homework to do methinks...
 

RyC

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Oct 17, 2013
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If you're going to use the Horizon Direct Connect agent, AD is not necessarily required