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Brian Madden on RemoteFX and just what are the minimum specs?

Brian Madden on RemoteFX and just what are the minimum specs?

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That rhyme/rap was not intentional.  Even in this day and age, I doubt a song about virtualisation technologies could get in the charts, although you never know…

Anyway, back to the real world…

Following up from yesterday’s post on the SP1 announcements, the interest in RemoteFX is already growing, with people wanting to get their hands on it, try it out, see how it behaves, how it scales, how it integrates, and more.  Before any of that though, isn’t it a good idea to know how it all works?  Well, there are lots of blog posts out there from both Microsoft, and Partners like Dell, Nvidia, and AMD to name but a few, but in terms of depth, you’d do well to find a more comprehensive, honest overview of the technology.  I’ll warn you though, it’s quite deep!

Read it here…

So, on to the specs.  I’ve already downloaded SP1, and installed it on my whitebox Shuttle PC, which has an Nvidia 8500 GT GPU (I’m not sure on the Video RAM – I haven’t checked, it was 1am!).  I’ve enabled the Remote FX bits (under Add Roles –> Remote Desktop Services) and Hyper-V, and I’m good to go, right?  No.  Not on my box :-(

According to this TechNet library page, the minimum specs for RemoteFX are as follows:

RemoteFX server hardware requirements

There are several hardware requirements that must be met when deploying a RemoteFX server:

  • SLAT-enabled processor – The processor in the RemoteFX server must support Second-Level Address Translation (SLAT). In virtualization scenarios, hardware-based SLAT support improves performance. On Intel-based processors, this is called Extended Page Tables (EPT), and on AMD-based processors, it is called Nested Page Tables (NPT).
  • GPU - At least one graphics processing unit (GPU) is required on the RemoteFX server. The GPU driver must support DirectX 9.0c and DirectX 10.0. If more than one GPU is installed in the RemoteFX server, the GPUs must be identical. The GPU must have sufficient dedicated video memory that is separate from system memory.
  • RemoteFX encoder - The RemoteFX encoder is optional and can be installed for additional scalability on the RemoteFX server. The hardware encoder card must be installed in an x4 speed PCI-express slot or greater.
  • Hyper-V – The Hyper-V hardware requirements must be supported on the server. The Hyper-V hardware requirements for Windows Server 2008 R2 are available on the Windows Server 2008 Technical Library (
  • Streaming SIMD Extensions (SSE2) processor – If you are using RemoteFX on an RD Session Host server, the processor on the RD Session Host server must support SSE2.

In my case, I’m let down by 2 factors here.  Firstly, I don’t have a CPU which has EPT or NPT, although it is a Core 2 Quad Extreme, but not quite extreme enough obviously.  Secondly, I don’t think my GPU has a huge amount of video RAM, but I think it has DirectX 10 support – time will tell on that one, when I get round to testing it!  I don’t need the RemoteFX Encoder in my test environment, so we can ignore that hardware-based addition for now.  Hyper-V runs fine on my box, so no issues there, and the final point is relevant to Session Hosts specifically, which isn’t on my agenda right now.  So, SLAT and GPU – not sure how I’m going to get round the SLAT one, but buying a new GPU with plenty of GPU Video RAM shouldn’t cost the earth.

How do you know how much video RAM is required?  Well, it depends:


As you can see from the table, as the resolution increases, the amount of video RAM required (per VM) increases.  As you increase the number of monitors, the same thing occurs.  It’s important to note that this solution is inevitably going to affect density, quite considerably, as you simply can’t get that many GPU’s into servers today but this will change, with GPUs of different shapes, sizes, and chassis creeping out over the coming months and years.  Watch this space I’d say…

  • OK OK, so if I have a virtualised Session Host, is it possible to enable RemoteFX? Do I do it on the SH itself, or on the HyperV Parent?

  • I wonder if a embedded graphics unit as built inside the i3-530 or i5-650 would make up for a suitable testbed. Even the i3-530 supports EPT/VT-x and should have enough video ram available for at least one guest.

    Has anyone tested that/can verify that?

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