Workstations, you already know, are the key players in any shop. Moreover, today’s effects-heavy motion pictures and commercials don’t want any old workstation, but run best on the latest in CPUs and GPUs. If you’re that editor or effects artist on deadline, you want the best gear you can get your hands on to tackle the ever-increasing workload demanded by ambitious projects.
But if you’re a business owner trying to meet ever-tightening budgets, you can’t just gift everyone in your studio with that speedy workstation they might want.
Until recently, you didn’t have much choice beyond buying a new graphics card or adding more memory. Now HP has come up with an approach that promises to lower the cost of providing workstations where they’re needed. It’s called virtual workstations and here is how it works.
The concept is beautifully simple. Instead of today’s fragmented approach with each artist getting his or her own big iron workstation, put a new HP DL380z Virtual Workstation into your machine room. Now everyone that needs a workstation can then share it while still enjoying a true workstation experience.
You don’t even need anything fancy to connect to that virtual HP PC. Hook up an inexpensive desktop PC, a laptop or even a tablet device. Really, the only thing that remote device does is to look at the pixels that come over the network (wired or wireless). That’s it. All the processing and heavy lifting is done on the DL 380z, safely and securely stored in your data center. Incidentally, the HP DL380z uses the industry-standard 2U form factor. That means you can install it into your machine room’s infrastructure with a minimum of fuss.
Early in the development of modern computing, when workstations were still to be invented, IBM and others tried a similar approach of a thin client attached to a huge computer cooling away in a machine room. However, there were many obstacles to making it successful such as virtualization of the GPU. But things have changed with the development of NVIDIA GRID Virtualization of high performance graphics.
The new DL380z brings together HP’s server technology with Nvidia GRID K2 graphics cards and Citrix virtualization technology. Each HP DL380z can hold dual Nvidia GRID K2 graphics cards while Nvidia GRID GPU Virtualization enables each card to support up to eight users at a time. The virtualization of the GPU by NVIDIA is a major achievement in the making virtual worksations a reality, particularly in our industry.
The other key ingredient is Citrix virtualization technology. While you can use the DL380z with HP Remote Graphics Software (RGS), the rack computer is also certified for the Citrix virtualization stack. This includes HDX 3D Pro technology to ensure high-performance remote access to the workstation-class applications that you use every day, such as 3D animation, compositing and video editing. In addition, since the DL380z would ideally be stored next to high performance storage arrays, project load times can be dramatically reduced.
You may be worried that virtualization might compromise the security of your data. After all, you don’t want someone tapping into the stream of pixels coming over the Wi-Fi to your remote device.
No need to worry. The HP DL380z keeps intellectual property and other sensitive data safe and secure by only transmitting encrypted pixel data over the LAN or WAN to remote users. The setup also allows for flexible IT management with a choice of pass-through GPU and virtual GPU modes that can be configured according to usage needs.
The more I come to know this product, the more I like it and the more it makes sense. First, there’s the cost. You start at around $2,600 per user, a fraction of what it costs to put a fast workstation on someone’s desk.
Aside from the obvious cost-effective benefits, it is secure, offers great performance and simplifies workstation management. If you have multiple users in your organization who require workstation class performance, the HP DL380z virtual workstation might be an ideal upgrade as part of your next budget.
More information about the HP DL380z can be found here.