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VDI - Network Performance

As I have read time and time again, VDI will expose your flaws in your network. Be it LAN or WAN... You will spot your flaws.

What I have discovered in my journey;

  • A majority of the network drops I've done in my home are garbage, CAT5 cable, poor splicing, network couplers, a mess.
  • I was getting less than 10Mb in the drop in my office. (Due to multiple cable splices in the drop, 2 switch hops in the office, and patching through the battery backup)
  • I get no more than 80Mb between any computer to any other computer or server (horray CAT5, not even CAT5e)

I utilized the tool NetStress Network Benchmark to obtain my network speeds and begin to really see what my initial slack cabling job has left me with.

What I plan to do next?

Well the wheels are already in motion, I've installed a Cisco SG200 switch to replace my dinky NetGear SoHo 1Gb Switch and I have also ordered 1000feet of CAT6 STP cable, 10 CAT6 keystones and 100 CAT6 shielded RJ45 connectors. 

All should arrive by next weekend, where I plan to redo all cable runs from the Patch Panel, to each wall plate. Then I will make new CAT6 cables for Patch Panel to Switch and Switch to Server equipment and finally new CAT6 cables for Wall Jack to PC/Device.

I will be running two drops to my office, I currently have one and 3-4 machines as well as the WiFi all share this connection. My hope is to move the WiFi AP to one drop and the office PC / Zero Clients to their own drop. (Most likely purchasing this Linksys Switch to match the LinkSys WRT AC1900 WiFi Router I use)

Once the rewire project is complete, I hope to see a drastic improvement in network speeds and VDI performance. Thus far, I have only be able to get Day of Defeat / CounterStrike to run at a playable state at 640x480 (Zero Client and Game resolution).

Using a EVGA PD03, VMWare ESX 6.0, VMWare View 6.1, NVidia Quadro 4000

VDI Gaming - Roadblocks

Card have come, card have been installed... Cards not working as expected.

2x Radeon HD 5450's 1x Nvidia Quadro 4000

 

In my efforts to add better comparability and support, I upgraded ESX from 5.1 to 5.5 then 6.0. Same for VMWare View as I now sit on version 6.1

Sadly VMWare dropped the Quadro 4000 cards for vSGA, thus my goal for that card is shot, next we look at the Radeon 5450s. Apparently these will work fine if I connect a monitor directly to the GPU and pass the GPU through to the VM.

Sadly I was hoping to keep the server in the basement and use ZeroClients with PCoIP to game with and these 2 5450's for that and the Quadro 4000 for shared workstation use (CADD etc..).

Neither option will work for how I want..

Whats next?

Well I ordered a second Quadro 4000, with the Nvidia VMWare Windows 7 drivers installed I can disable the VMWare 3D VGA driver and still connect with VMware View (not the case with the Radeon cards). So I will possibly use DirectPath I/O with the 2 Quadro 4000 cards to Dedicated VMs.

My options as it stands now are;

  • Move the VDI ESX host into the Office (Battery backup and ALL) and connect the game monitors and HIDs to it directly
  • Purchase 2 DVI over CAT6e adapters and a couple USB over Ethernet adapters, run a few cable drops from the Basement to the Office and use the systems that way ($$ than I wanna spend as I've spent enough already).
  • Use just the 2 Quadro 4000s as vDGA (1 card to 1 VM) and deal with the latency for now. (As I am getting horrible LAG between the ZeroClient and ESX Host). Troubleshooting as much as I ca.
  • Scrap it all together and eBay the 6 Video Cards I've amassed, 4 monitors, 2 keyboards, 2 mice etc.
  • Downgrade to ESX 5.1 to use the Quadro 4000 cards as vSGA and share them with Multiple VMs and call it a day.

For now, I plan to move the server upstairs and just test with a Keyboard/Mouse and monitor connected directly to the passthru hardware on the host. I have a new SSD and RAM upgrade coming so its gotta be dismantled anyway, perfect time to test.

Sadly I can state I was getting over 100FPS in Counter-strike (original) according to the game display, yet from the VM to the Zero Client it was capping out around 15FPS with about a 500ms lag in input response. As I test more and review more I will post details as I go.

For now here are the specs.

ESX 6.0

Horizon View 6.1

AMD FX-6100 (6 core 3.3GHz)

2x XFX Radeon HD 5450s (1GB)

2x Nvidia Quadro 4000 (2GB)

24GB G.Skill RipJaw RAM

1x Samsung EVO 840 120GB SSD

1x Samsung EVO 850 250GB SSD

1x Seagate Barracuda 1TB HDD


 

VDI project in full swing

Well I've been testing and toying around with the Radeon HD5670 and I went ahead and placed a few orders to continue down the Gaming VDI path. (Odd what sleepless nights and Amazon Prime will do to you)

 

First I ordered 2 XFX Radeon 5450s (1GB) to use as dedicated direct GPUs for 2 gaming machines, I then tied in 2 TeckNet 6 button gaming mice and 19 inch Acer monitors. Lastly, I couldn't resist picking up an eBay item a PNY NVIDIA Quadro 4000 2GB for abit more fun tied in with my GT640 1GB.

I plan to do some tests between the GT640 and the Quadro 4000 to decide what card to leave in for vSGA and then of course I plan to use the 5450s as vDGA.

Once I button up the graphics needs, I will be replacing the 16GB RAM kit I have with another 32GB kit, allowing more RAM for the desktops and also placing 1-2 256GB SSDs for the desktops as well.

 

K1 GRID card, prepared for use.

Well, I finally took some time to swap the Device ID resistors on my Asus GT640 card to get it to report as a K1 GRID card. It took maybe 45 minutes to an hour to do. Mostly because I was nervous and my hand kept shaking... knocking the resistor off the solder pads.

 

But once done, I installed it into my Secondary ESX host and...

 

Unexpected hiccups - energy redirection.

Well, due to an unexpected 180 degree change in where I was expecting to be... I now how some pent up energy and excitement for projects and opportunities missed.

Time to redirect that energy into a new direction, and how better than getting lost in a project?

Back on the table is the ESX02 VDI machine (hence my prior post with the K1 Device ID swap). I placed an order for 2 ATI Radeon HD5450s late last night, with a goal of using these as Dedicated Adapters for my 2 VDI Game stations. I have been having issues getting XOrg to start and run on my host with the hacked GT640, so in the Interim I plan on using the dedicated 5450s.

Once I succeed with the K1 card, I will end up using Shared 3D for my "Workstation" VDI machines, to improve items such as SketchUp etc.

Thus I will have 1 GT640 converted K1 assigned to Windows 7 "Workstation" VDI machines, and 2 HD5450's Directly passed thru 2 Windows 8.1 "Gaming" VDI machines.

I do have a Radeon 5670 that I am currently testing with. Thus far I have managed to get the drivers to install, GPUZ detects the card, but when I attempt to connect via PCoIP I disconnect after a brief period of no video. Time to troubleshoot!

New H.I.D. items

It took a bit of digging, but I was finally able to find a Razer Nostromo in Blue (discontinued model), now all my "Human Interface Devices" match. 

 

New H.I.D.s

 

I've also begun to get used to the Cherry MX Brown switches on the Corsair K70 RGB, and I must admit... I miss it when I am using another keyboard. I still bottom out, thus my typing is a bit clacky but I am learning to ease back some and release pressure once I feel the actuation point on the switch.

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