Until recently, virtualizing design engineer workstations and graphics-intensive applications such as CAD/CAM was not seriously considered due to technology limitations. With today’s advancements in deep compression for improving network utilization and new GPU acceleration technology for virtualized environments, many organizations have begun to successfully virtualize their high-end graphics apps not only over LANs but also WANs.
A number of business drivers are accelerating the trend to virtualize high-end graphics applications such as CAD/CAM, including:
- The desire to leverage a global talent base for design collaboration
- Corporate requirements to safeguard product design IP
- The need to extend access to users viewing or presenting design models on mobile devices
- Economic demands for cost control and faster time to market
Before software virtualization, collaborating on very large design engineer models across geographies required large, bulk transfers of data back and forth over long distances, which was a very costly and slow process. Software virtualization technology makes it very easy for an engineer in India, for example, to pull up large engineering models from a remote datacenter hosting the CAD/CAM app with a very acceptable application experience.
Much IP typically resides on individual workstations, which are inherently unsecure. At the same time, there is a growing necessity to share not only IP but also bills of materials, lifecycle data and other important information in real time with contractors, partners and remote workers. Workstation and application virtualization is inherently secure as only a pixel representation of the data is transferred over the network from the datacenter.
The ability to pull up design documents and sophisticated 3D models on the manufacturing floor or at a customer location allows 3D application users to collaborate more effectively when away from their offices. Now, an engineer can easily confer with manufacturing on the shop floor to get design feedback or share information. Or, the account team can meet at a customer’s facility to demonstrate and show designs on laptops and tablet devices, and even make modifications on the fly instead of having to return to the office to make design changes.
Follow-the-sun (24 X 7) development cycles are increasingly important for remaining competitive. The ability to share workstation resources with multiple users concurrently and later provide the same workstation resources to other users in non-overlapping time zones is cost-effective. It is possible for development teams to work productively during different time periods by centralizing data and making it available to other geographic teams in real time vs. transferring 3D model data in bulk over the network on a daily basis.
Citrix leadership and experience in virtualization of high-end 3D graphics apps and workstations have shown that a successful design engineer virtual workstation solution has three key components:
- Support for high-end professional graphics applications as demonstrated by rigorous vendor testing of industry-leading CAD/CAM applications based on Open GL and DirectX
- Access to graphics data from any device, including laptops, tablets and Mac computers.
- A high-definition user experience, similar to a physical workstation experience, over any network including challenging high-latency, low bandwidth WANs and across oceans
The Citrix design engineer virtual workstation solution is built on a number of Citrix products: XenDesktop with HDX 3D Pro, Receiver, and XenServer.
XenDesktop with HDX 3D pro supports high-end 3D graphics applications based on OpenGL or DirectX. Various deep compression technologies enable great performance over the LAN and very usable performance over WANs with as little as 1.5 MB of bandwidth per user and RTL as high as 200 MS. With XenServer as the hypervisor, multiple virtual machines on a workstation or blade host (up to 4 VMs or users, each with a dedicated Nvidia GPU card and double this user density with the latest Nvidia K2 GPU cards) can leverage direct GPU hardware to accelerate and optimize graphics performance and response.
Any device remote access to 3D graphics apps is provided by Citrix Receiver. Receiver is the only client you need to install to enable access to a full workstation or just 3D apps from a Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, or Android
And, Citrix has internally tested all of the major CAD/CAM, GIS and imaging applications to ensure users that these apps are easily supported on the Citrix platform.
Citrix is leading the way in virtual delivery of 3D professional graphics applications and workstations, including offering the first software virtualization solution to support hardware-based GPU acceleration, developing breakthrough deep compression technologies for maximizing traffic throughput over low-bandwidth networks and integrating Nvidia’s VGX API to improve overall visual performance.
The Citrix solution is mature and specially designed to support professional CAD/CAM apps and deliver an exceptional experience to power users working with these apps. Because no new XenDesktop infrastructure is required, customers can leverage existing Citrix investments.
Many large product design and manufacturing firms have successfully deployed a Citrix HDX 3D-based solution beyond the LAN and are enabling access and collaboration among their design engineers across the globe. Citrix and its partners are ready to share experiences and best practices to help your organization on this journey.