Living On The [NVIDIA] Grid

The primary computer I use every day is a very nice current generation MacBook Pro with an NVIDIA GeForce GT 750M GPU. Nevertheless, with all that graphics horsepower on my laptop, for the last several weeks I have been spending my workday running an NVIDIA graphics-accelerated VDI session. You can experience the same for 24 hours by signing up at our TryGrid site for a free 24-hour session. So why use graphics-accelerated VDI when you have perfectly good graphics already? Lets go through some of the reasons.

Since my VDI session is professional administered in the cloud (the private cloud in NVIDIA’s data center for our corporate VDI instance), I never have to worry about saving or copying files from my laptop drive to a RAID-protected, backed up, managed, file system. Sure with my laptop I can map a network drive to make it appear like a local drive, but in my VDI session, since it lives in the data center, my files never are stored locally. Unless, of course, I go out of my way to copy them from the cloud to my local desktop. My VDI session automatically maps my laptop drive to the Windows H drive on my VDI instance, so if I need a file, for instance for later disconnected work, it is easy to move. I won’t go into all the security benefits of having my files stay in NVIDIA’s data center versus on my laptop’s hard drive, but that is another big benefit as well.

Monday mornings (or Tuesday this week because of the US Memorial Day holiday) are also a lot easier with VDI. As soon as I reconnect my VDI instance, all my browser windows, documents, and other windows are there exactly where I left them. And of course I don’t need my laptop to get there. Should I leave my laptop at home, or worse lose it or damage it, I can get access to my VDI instance from any corporate PC. Persistence of VDI sessions is a huge benefit that is often overlooked.

Another advantage of VDI is that our VDI servers are connected to the world via 10G Arista switches. We have pretty good WiFi on campus, but big files still move a lot faster coming down a 10G pipe directly into our corporate data center than out over our campus network and eventually into a relatively skinny WiFi signal or building 1G or slower ethernet. Same with files. My Mac has a fast SSD, but for huge files it is no match for our corporate NetApp file servers.

Here is how I described our graphics accelerated VDI to a family member this weekend: 1) It just runs all your favorite graphics-accelerated apps, plus all your corporate apps, with the delightful visual experience you expect from NVIDIA; 2) Like a Google Chromebook, your laptop becomes essentially stateless for anything running in your VDI session, 3) and finally, because its connected to big fat network and storage pipes in our corporate data center, any file or network intensive activity is just a lot faster.

Finally, NVIDIA brings a great solution for moving the corporate desktop into the [public or private] cloud, NVIDIA Grid


About Marc Hamilton

Marc Hamilton – Vice President, Solutions Architecture and Engineering, NVIDIA. At NVIDIA, the Visual Computing Company, Marc leads the worldwide Solutions Architecture and Engineering team, responsible for working with NVIDIA’s customers and partners to deliver the world’s best end to end solutions for professional visualization and design, high performance computing, and big data analytics. Prior to NVIDIA, Marc worked in the Hyperscale Business Unit within HP’s Enterprise Group where he led the HPC team for the Americas region. Marc spent 16 years at Sun Microsystems in HPC and other sales and marketing executive management roles. Marc also worked at TRW developing HPC applications for the US aerospace and defense industry. He has published a number of technical articles and is the author of the book, “Software Development, Building Reliable Systems”. Marc holds a BS degree in Math and Computer Science from UCLA, an MS degree in Electrical Engineering from USC, and is a graduate of the UCLA Executive Management program.
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