With the public Beta release of Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 and Windows 7 SP1 there have been some significant announcements around RemoteFX. I want to use this post to aggregate some of these announcements and call out some specifics regarding RemoteFX.

   

In case you missed the news or were living under a rock here is a blurb of what RemoteFX is:

   

"RemoteFX enhances Microsoft desktop virtualization. RemoteFX lets Windows Server 2008 R2 administrators provide an even richer and user-transparent desktop virtualization experience. RemoteFX delivers rich content, independent of any graphics stack, to server-hosted virtual and session-based desktops, allowing them to support any screen content, including full-motion video, portable graphics stacks such as Silverlight, and 3D applications. Because it can use virtualized graphics on the server and advanced codecs, RemoteFX can deliver those experiences to a much wider array of target devices, including standard desktops and laptops but also an emerging slew of thin clients. You'll also be able to forward the USB ports of the local client to the virtual machine being accessed on the device - just like you can forward the local printer over RDP today."

   

This is a fantastic TechED 2010 presentation including recorded video and slides entitled "Microsoft RemoteFX: Rich Windows Desktop Experience for VDI and Session Virtualization" by Karthik Lakshminarayanan from the RemoteFX team giving you an in-depth look at RemoteFX including demos. This is the one to watch folks.

   

Also here is a blog post from Max Herrmann a veteran of the original Calista Technologies acquisition where he gives us some history and further perspective on RemoteFX.

   

Here are links to our current guidance for RemoteFX for the public Beta release of SP1 along with some additional content:

While this is covered in the Hardware Considerations guidance it is important enough to call out here so folks are aware. As the maximum monitors and resolutions are increased for each RemoteFX-enabled virtual machine, the amount of required video memory also increases. The GPUs in the server must have sufficient video memory for all virtual machines that are powered on at the same time. The following is a list of video memory requirements for a maximum number of monitors and resolution:

 

Maximum Resolution

Maximum Number of Monitors in Virtual Machine Setting

1 monitor

2 monitors

3 monitors

4 monitors

1024 x 768

75 MB

105 MB

135 MB

165 MB

1280 x 1024

125 MB

175 MB

225 MB

275 MB

1600 x 1200

184 MB

257 MB

330 MB

 

1900 x 1200

220 MB

308 MB

  

 

Here is another post by Max discussing our partner announcements made this week on RemoteFX. Worth noting are the announcements by AMD and NVidia which includes what GPUs they are supporting today for RemoteFX in the Remote Desktop Virtualization Host (RDVH) scenario and Dell's guidance on their offerings that have been tested with the SP1 Beta and can be used for Beta deployments.

We also have two published case studies from Convergent Computing and Sporton International on RemoteFX and Dynamic Memory.

 

The deployment scenarios for RemoteFX are as follows:

 

Remote Desktop Virtualization Host (RDVH) also known as VDI and Remote Desktop Session Host (TS) aka Terminal Services. With RDVH RemoteFX you will need a SLAT capable system along with a GPU(s). Under this deployment scenario you will get a full fidelity user experience including rich media, full fidelity video, along with 3D acceleration, Windows Aero and USB device redirection. Under RDSH RemoteFX you will require a system that supports SSE2 instructions. You do not need a GPU. You can virtualize the RDSH role as a guest VM and leverage the CPU for RemoteFX encoder operations, however on systems that will have the ASIC encoder you will need to run the RDSH role on bare metal. You get the same rich media full fidelity video/user experience but you do not get 3D acceleration since there is no physical GPU(s) being virtualized and exposed to the session, which also means no Aero. You also do not get USB redirection.

   

If you have not already done so I strongly encourage you to run over here and download the Beta's of Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 and Windows 7 SP1 and invite you to evaluate RemoteFX and provide feedback. To reach us with any comments or questions, please post your message on the RDS forum or send us an email: remotefx@microsoft.com.

   

On a personal note my wife and 5 year old son have been running their desktops as RemoteFX guest VMs for the past 3 months with no blocking issues or issues that would cause my wife to have to send me to my room….err office. J My son loves to watch videos and play interactive games on NickJr and also watch offline Dora the Explorer and The Backyardigan movies from our video library….so far he still calls me Daddy. My wife who's typical user scenarios vary from Office productivity (she is an Excel power user) related tasks when she catches up on work at home or general personal computing (mail, surfing the net, social networking, music, photo syncing, etc) also has not hit anything that would cause her to change the locks on the door. ;) But in all seriousness I personally spend about 90% of my day (intermingling both my work and personal life) in a RemoteFX guest VM and it truly is an awesome experience. No this is not the cool aid talking. A number of years ago before coming to Microsoft while working in the industry I was in contact with the original Calista Technologies folks (including Max) and got early access and tested some of their early pre-acquisition builds. At the time it was a mind blowing experience thinking of the possibilities….now it is truly an eye opening experience actually using RemoteFX day to day.

   

-eric