How to improve VMware View video performance

ImproveDuring the last weeks we’ve been busy implementing a large VMware View deployment for one customer and planning an even larger VMware View deployment for another customer. At the first site we ran into some video performance issues which we definitely want to avoid during the second project.

In our quest to solve and avoid the video performance issues we ran into a number of ways to improve the video performance in VMware View that I would like to share.

First of all, we used the information below from the VMware Architecture Planning Guide:

480p-formatted video You can play video at 480p or lower at native resolutions when the View desktop has a single virtual CPU. If the operating system is Windows 7 and you want to play the video in high-definition Flash or in full screen mode, the desktop requires a dual virtual CPU.

720p-formatted video You can play video at 720p at native resolutions if the View desktop has a dual virtual CPU. Performance might be affected if you play videos at 720p in high definition or in full screen mode.

1080p-formatted video If the View desktop has a dual virtual CPU, you can play 1080p formatted video, although the media player might need to be adjusted to a smaller window size.

3D If you plan to use 3D applications such as Windows Aero themes or Google Earth, the Windows 7 View desktop must have virtual hardware version 8 and turn on the pool setting called Windows 7 3D Rendering. Up to 2 monitors are supported, and the maximum screen resolution is 1920 x 1200. This non-hardware accelerated graphics feature enables you to run DirectX 9 and OpenGL 2.1 applications without requiring a physical graphics processing unit.

These are the settings we used to size the first solution, so we use a Windows 7 desktop image with dual vCPU, 2GB memory, a VMXNET3 adapter and hardware version 8.

Update 03-2014: We recently found out that with the recent improvements in vSphere 5.5 and Horizon View 5.3 we can now offer full screen 720p video with only 1 vCPU VDI virtual machines. VMware has not yet updated their documentation but a VMware employee confirmed that updates in eg. the code of the VMware SVGA graphics driver resulted in this improvement.

This is good for playing 720p in native video resolution but when scaling to full screen this setup does not run smoothly.

Note how it says “native resolutions“, plural. In this case, 720p only defines the aspect ration of 16:9 and 720 horizontal scan lines. In this case native resolution means, the resolution in which a video is presented to you by default, with no up- or down-scaling applied. So it does not define 1280 × 720 video resolution.

 

Modify Fast Send Datagram Threshold

For desktop VMs using VMXnet3 NICs, you can significantly improve the peak video playback performance of your View desktop. The VMXNET3 adapter is a paravirtualized NIC designed for performance that, as of vSphere 5, supports interrupt coalescing. Virtual interrupt coalescing is similar to a physical NICs interrupt moderation and is useful in improving CPU efficiency for high throughput workloads. Unfortunately, out-of-the-box, Windows does not benefit from interrupt coalescing in many scenarios (those sending packets larger than 1024-bytes), because after sending a packet, Windows waits for a completion interrupt to be delivered before sending the next packet.

By setting FastSendDatagramThreshold to the Microsoft recommended value of 1500 bytes you instruct Windows not to wait for the completion interrupt even when sending larger packets. So modify the following registry setting to the value:

HKLM\System\CurrentControlSet\Services\Afd\Parameters\FastSendDatagramThreshold to 1500

This allows VMware View and PCoIP to benefit from interrupt coalescing which reduces CPU load and improves network throughput for PCoIP. This translates into significantly improved video playback performance of up to 1.4 times when running full-screen videos at 1080p resolution on a 2vCPU desktop.

PCoIP

 

Configure PCoIP image quality levels

With View 5 VMware has released a few VMware View GPO’s that can be used to modify the default behaviour of the PCoIP protocol. Many View customers use this to turn down the bandwidth PCoIP uses in low bandwidth situations. This lowers the frame rate, limits the bandwidth and thereby it changes the image quality. But you can also use it the other way around and allow for better video performance.

PColPMaxLinkRate GPO
This GPO can be used to set the desired maximum PCoIP session bandwidth in kilobits per second.
(example: 1000 = 1000Kbps = 1Mbps). The default value is 1Gbps (1.000.000Kbps), 0 = no bandwidth constraints.

When you are in a LAN environment and bandwidth is not an issue, try setting the PColPMaxLinkRate to ’0′ to improve the video performance.

PColPlmagingMinimumlmageQuality GPO
This GPO can be used to adjust the minimum image quality. Range is a value between 30-100, the default value is 50. When  you set a lower image quality (lower value) the result is a higher frame rate for smooth motion but with lower image quality. When you set a higher image quality (higher value) the result is crisp imaging but with less smooth image motion.

To improve the video performance try lowering the PColPlmagingMinimumlmageQuality value.

PColPlmagingMaximumlnitiallmageQualitv GPO
This GPO can be used to adjust the maximum image quality. Range is a value between 30-100, the default value is 90. When  you set a higher value, the result is a higher initial image quality, with larger peaks in bandwidth during large screen changes. When you set a lower value, the result is a lower initial image quality, with smaller peaks in bandwidth during large screen changes.

When you suspect that bandwidth is an issue, for instance on WiFi connections, try lowering the PColPlmagingMaximumlnitiallmageQualitv value to improve the video performance.

 

These setting are the default VMware View GPO settings to adjust PCoIP behaviour but I also found a PCoIP setting hidden in the registry.

PCoIP.maximum_frame_rate
This setting can be used to set the maximum frame rate. The default value is 30 frames per second. When you set a higher value, the result is a higher frame rate and smooth display imaging motion but with possible increased average network bandwidth. When you set a lower value, the result is a lower frame rate with a lower average network bandwidth but with less smooth image motion.

To improve video performance, create the registry key below (REG_DWORD) and try some higher values. Setting in frames per second/Hz (example: 8, 12 or 15 fps).

HKEYLOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Policies\Teradici\PC0IP\pcoip_admin\pcoip.maximum_frame_rate

 

Handle with care
All these settings above can improve the video performance dramatically but as a result it consumes more bandwidth. My advice would be to use Active Directory, logon scripts and/or workspace managers like RES to apply these settings to only the desktops that need better quality video performance and are on a LAN with the bandwidth needed. Don’t use it for all VDI desktops unless everyone needs better quality video performance.

 

PCoIP settings

 

 

Multi-Media Redirection

If all this fails you can always reside to old fashioned Multi-Media Redirection (MMR) and use the local processing power to render the video on the client side, but this has some caveats.

Multimedia redirection (MMR) delivers the multimedia stream directly to client computers by using a virtual channel. With MMR, the multimedia stream is processed, that is, encoded and decoded, on the client system. Local hardware formats and plays media content, thereby offloading the demand on the ESX/ESXi host.

The problem is that there is only limited support. The MMR feature supports the media file formats that the client system supports, because local decoders must exist on the client. File formats include MPEG2-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-4 Part 2; WMV 7, 8, and 9; WMA; AVI; ACE; MP3; and WAV, among others.

This feature has the following limitations:

  • For best quality, use Windows Media Player 10 or later, and install it on both the local computer, or client access device, and the View desktop.
  • The Wyse MMR port, which is 9427 by default, must be added as a firewall exception in the View desktop.
  • MMR is not supported with PCoIP on Windows 7 clients or virtual desktops.

Windows 7 clients and Windows 7 View desktops do not support MMR. For Windows 7 clients agents, use Windows media redirection, included with RDP 7. For  this to work you need to use Windows Media Player 10 or later, and install it on both the local computer, or client access device, and the View desktop.

Wyse Pocket Cloud demo

Just before VMworld 2009 Wyse released a great application for the iPhone called Wyse Pocket Cloud. It’s a great new application which enables you to connect to servers of desktops using RDP or VMware View.

So, what do you need and how can you get it? You need an iPhone 3G with a WiFi or 3G connection and today you can still download the application in the Apple Store for €15,99. This is a limited time promotional sale (30% off) for the week of VMworld.

Richard Garsthagen recorded a nice demo on VMworld which you can watch below.

Building and maintaining the VMworld 2009 Datacenter

It is becoming a sequel, the datacenter VMware has build for this weeks VMworld 2009 at the Moscone Center in San Francisco.

In addition to our two previous articles (art1, art2), today we found two very nice videos loaded with tons of techno porno!

The first video shows the VMware team building the complete datacenter on-site at the Moscone Center. During the video footage the awesome numbers representing this huge infrastructure run by.

In short? 28 racks containing 776 ESX servers which provide the infrastructure with 37TB of memory, 6.208 CPU cores and 348TB storage which uses 528KW electricity and is servicing 37.248 virtual machines. You will probably never find such an infrastructure anywhere in the world, at least I know I won’t.

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Live feed from VMworld 2009

You wanted to attend VMworld 2009 at the Moscone Center in San Francisco but you couldn’t?

I know what it feels like :(

But now John Troyer (VMware) has a live video feed from the Solution Exchange. It feels like you’re there while sitting on the couch at home. John interviews various interesting guest on various subjects.

If you want to view John Troyers Live feed and/or chat with him check out more.

Edit: Keep in mind the time zone difference betweeen LA and your current location (LA 9:00-17:00 = NL 18:00-02:00)

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VMware vSphere 4 video contest. And the winner is ……..

As they do every year, VMware has asked their customers to put their creativity to the test. The assigment was to create a video that shows why business-critical applications run best on VMware vSphere 4. Last week VMware announced the five winners and from August 31st until September 3rd you can vote for your favorite.  Visit www.vmware.com/go/videocontest and vote for your favorite. Which of these videos do you think deserves to win the VMworld Favorite award?

As a big ’24′ fan my absolute favorite is Email’s Down.

vSphere ‘how to upgrade’ videos

For those of you who have been following the launch of VMware’s new flagship vSphere 4 and are anxious to upgrade their virtual infrastructure, I ran into a great post on Mike DiPetrillo’s website.

Mike has posted four great video’s with the following scenario’s:

  • Video 1 -VMware VirtualCenter Management Components
  • Video 2 – VMware ESX Host Migration Methods
  • Video 3 – Virtual Machine Upgrades (VMware Tools and Virtual Hardware)
  • Video 4 – Implementing VMware vSphere Licensing

Interested? You can check out the videos here.

VMworld Europe 2009 Highlights

Saturday I slept through most of the day and Sunday I put all of our video material on my computer. I created a video which will show you all our highligts of VMworld Europe 2009 in 10 minutes. Enjoy and thanks again for the support.

VMworld Europe 2009 – Solution Exchange & Hands-on-Labs

Some of our colleagues ask us what we do in Cannes all day long. It’s easy to explain what the sessions are, presentations sometimes supported by a product demo. But with the Solution Exchange and Hands-on-Labs some still have huge question marks on their faces. Maybe they don’t understand the term or the setup so we created a video compilation to give you an idea. Maybe now you will understand why we, at some days, didn’t follow any sessions because we were ‘stuck’ at level -1 of the Palais des Festivals.

VMworld Europe 2009 – VMware ‘unplugged’

Yesterday there was a session called VMware ‘unplugged’, here you could ask all kinds of questions to a panel of VMware CxOs. The panel constisted of Steve Herrod, Paul Maritz, Mauricio Carli and Tod Nielsen. Anne Jan posted an article on this yesterday and now we have a video with the highlights of this ‘unplugged’ session.

VMworld Europe 2009 – Keynote session video

In addition to our post this morning hereby the highlight of this session in a video.

VMworld Europe 2009 – Partner Award ceremony

Last, but certainly not least, we attended the Partner Award Ceremony at the end of our day. This is the place where VMware awards its Partners for a year of hard work. We knew that Centric was nominated so we were a bit nervous but at the we did not receive an award :(

VMworld Europe 2009 – Partner Day highlights video

We already wrote about it but here are the highlights of the 2009 Partner Day @ Cannes on video.

Presentations ‘LIVE’ from VMworld 2008

October 13th I met Eric Sloof, the man behind NTPRO.NL, at the VMware Partner Forum 2008 in Brasschaat. He was busy filming various presentations. Today I visited Erik’s site and discovered his video collection. If you are interested in the ‘live’ presentations of VMWorld 2008 or some nice product demo’s, check out Erik’s videos on Vimeo.

Here are three of my favorites: