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back to article Microsoft's RemoteFX is fab - but will it play Crysis?

Microsoft supports two very different types of remote desktop computing: Remote Desktop Session Host (RDSH) and Remote Desktop Virtualization Host (RDVH). Those of us who don't speak Redmondian know these technologies as Terminal Services and VDI, respectively. But can they play Crysis? RDSH takes a single instance of a server …

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As you say, bring on v2.0.

It seems OnLive have at least partially solved the problem of less-than-rich connections, so I'm sure Microsoft can if they put their minds to it.

Either that or BT will finally pull its hand out of its arse and give us some LAN speed connections.

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Gold badge

It would be really cool if version 2.0 allows me to build the system out of common one-o-r-two-steps-down-from-top-end desktop parts. The modern equivalent of an i5 2500 /w 16GB of RAM and an AMD 6990.

Moving the specifications past “servers made out of sex and gold” would move this from “cute toy for the enterprise that allows your RDP workers to go back to wasting time with solitaire” into something I can legitimately see being useful. I.E. the ability to buy one gaming PC per refresh cycle and let anyone in the house “jack in” to that horse power when they wanted it.

We shall see…

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Childcatcher

I use http://www.streammygame.com for this. It's a bit fiddly to get going with (not helped by the guff ui on the web console), and you need an internet connection to authenticate your license (it's not free, but is dirt cheap). It does the job perfectly of streaming from my desktop beast to my old laptop over G wireless. Works with nearly every game I've tried (far more than they advertise), just a pity it's not as slick as it could be. They do a resolution limited demo if anyone wants to check it out.

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Major limitation for RemoteFX

If you're connecting to a virtual desktop it must be running Windows 7 Ultimate or Enterprise according to Microsoft tech requirements, which explains why I wasted an hour trying to get it working on Win7 Pro. Major bummer. :-(

BTW, OnLive is amazing. It sucks on a mobile device but on a desktop with a good network connection it's fast and very convenient. The picture quality isn't good enough for full HD but looks okay played in a window on an HD desktop. Very clever, impressive response times given what's actually happening behind the scenes.

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Anonymous Coward

Hehe - I still remember

...getting downvoted for making a Crysis joke in response to one of your articles on building a render farm. Some people... jeesh : D

Cool stuff Trev - and Happy New Year! Keep it coming

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Pint

Vote on this!

Ah, but thanks to RemoteFX, that enormous render farm made out of sex and gold CAN play Crysis. That’s where I snagged a demo box from for a night.

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Anonymous Coward

"That’s where I snagged a demo box from for a night."

I LOL'd - IRL for real!

: D

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Linux

GLX

Congratulations to Microsoft for discovering GLX and indirect rendering. Let's see, they've added equivalents for hard and soft links, sudo, X, and now GLX. One wonders what wonders await for Windows next.

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Anonymous Coward

RemoteFX != GLX

So GLX lets you virtualize your GPU so that it can be shared by multiple VMs? I don't think so.

If you really believe that GLX is basically the same (which it isn't) then you don't know what you're talking about.

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Anonymous Coward

Actually, yes

Actually, I can share my GPU among multiple REAL MACHINES using GLX, not just virtual machines.

So no, GLX isn't like Microsoft's solution at all - it's better. As usual.

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Anonymous Coward

RE: RemoteFX !=GLX

Hey... Ass hat! u must be that 18 year old boy who has never seen UNIX.

We have been doing remote 3D for CAD for over a decade on UNIX. You windows shrills just do not know how a real computer works. I hope VMware can get 3D working soon so we can have you little boys doing in Windows and VMware ESX what UNIX has been doing for decades.

UNIX does have issues with remote sound and USB, but CAD did not need either of those back in the day...

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Anonymous Coward

And you demonstrate that you have no f*****g clue what you're talking about. What are you, a freetard who thinks Linux is the greatest thing since sliced bread?

FYI: RemoteFX is *not* about displaying screen content from one machine on another (which is what X11 does). Under Windows, that's covered by RDP which is there for way over a decade.

RemoteFX is about fully *virtualizing* a GPU (as it's already done for CPUs and other hardware), so that 'slices' of it can be used by Virtual Machines as if they had a real GPU for themselves, being used for Direct3D and in the future for GPGPU applications. And no, you can't do that in fucking UNIX, and certainly not for decades (and if you think otherwise, then please explain how a single GPU is shared under multiple Virtual Machines in a UNIX of your choice). Last time I looked, you couldn't even do that in VMWare.

All X11 'virtualizes' is the output path so that display and input devices can be located outside the computer (i.e. on a terminal or another computer). But that's about it. Still one GPU can only be used by a single machine (virtual or real).

And just for the record: I work with Solaris, AIX, HP-UX and Linux (mostly Redhat and SuSE Enterprise) on a daily basis, as well as with various flavors of Windows. But I also don't have to openly demonstrate utter ignorance on (for an IT person) very basic stuff, and I don't feel the need to resent to foul language to compensate for any personal deficiencies. But YMMV of course.

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Anonymous Coward

So you can display the screen ouput of several machines on your screen? Good for you, Unfortunately that's not what RemoteFX does.

What GLX does is virtualizing OpenGL calls so that you can use OpenGL (or MESA) acceleration over X11. The MS equivalent is called RDP and this does something similar (albeit for Direct3D) with RDP 7.0.

RemoteFX is something completely different. It virtualizes the GPU hardware, not just the output stream. This means every virtual machine sees a virtual GPU which it can use as if it were real hardware. So say you have a server with two GPUs running Windows Server with Hyper-V or Hyper-V Server, which again runs several VMs. One VM can for example use the GPU for graphical applications, while another VM uses the GPU for GPGPU acceleration. As it is done with CPUs, the physical hardware gets 'sliced up' in virtual entities through the HyperVisor so that every VM 'sees' its own independent GPU.

If you think GLX is the same then sorry but you're delusional.

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APA
Coming late to the discussion I know, but doesn't VirtualBox do that? https://www.virtualbox.org/manual/ch04.html#guestadd-video I can install the enlightened drivers onto the guest machines that exposes 3D functionality to them. They can happily do 3D stuff as if the virtual graphics card was "real". I've had Compiz running within Ubuntu (guest), running within Win7 (host). I've been playing with it for a while now and performance is passable. When I get enough spare time, I'm going to try it the other way round (Win7 guest under Linux host) to see what has better performance (I'm guessing the current setup). Combine the above with VirtualBox's handy RDP extension and haven't I just replicated VDI with £D acceleration (in principle anyway, I don't think they've implemented the current version of the protocol yet).
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Ru
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Facepalm

"It will play your stack of pirated videos without a problem"

I thought this deserved to be QFT.

DRM is awesome; every day I learn new things about its brilliance.

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Anonymous Coward

"RemoteFX requires [...] a workstation-class video card. (AMD Firepro/FIrestream or nVidia Quadro.) "

Anyone know why this is? I was under the impression that the only real difference between the workstation class cards and the consumer ones was that the ability to do double precision floating point calcuations was disabled in the drivers?

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Gold badge

My understand is that "rendering" is in fact done as FPU calcs in remotefx, as opposed to more traditional methods. But that was extracted from one demo video, and isn't what I'd consider "reliable evidence of how it works" yet.

But lines up with the MS propaganda about desktop cards "not meeting performance requirements." More research is required.

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Workstation vs Gamer graphics

" I was under the impression that the only real difference between the workstation class cards and the consumer ones was that the ability to do double precision floating point calcuations was disabled in the drivers?"

Not quite. Hardware-wise, the GPUs are the same. The difference is in how the card identifies itself and how the driver reacts.

For an Nvidia card, if the driver (Quadro and Geforce drivers are the same) detects a Quadro, it enables some advanced features like AA lines and double precision GPGPU support, and also changes some parameters so that professional apps run faster and games a bit slower.

With AMD cards, the Radeon and FirePro/FireGL/FireWhatever drivers are generally the same, however the OpenGL driver is different (better OpenGL support for the workstation cards). Unlike Nvidia, AMD has also modified the installation routines so that Radeon drivers can't be used on a workstation card and vice versa.

But at the end of the day, if a gfx card is a professional gfx card or workstation gfx card is not dependent on hardware, driver or features, the only criterium is if the card is ISV certified.

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Facepalm

Re: Workstation vs Gamer graphics

Reading all that makes me so sad. So if I want to play games and do 3D graphics/modelling/etc I have to sodding buy two gfx cards, and/or two separate computers to go with them? bloody hell!

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"Reading all that makes me so sad. So if I want to play games and do 3D graphics/modelling/etc I have to sodding buy two gfx cards, and/or two separate computers to go with them? bloody hell!"

No, you don't. You only need a certified gfx card (workstation card) if you need ISV support for your professional application (and this often requires using a certified workstation like those from Dell or HP, and using a certain combination of drivers). If you're doing that for hobby then a gaming card works just fine with the majority of professional apps. You just miss a few features and won't get ISV support.

Similarly, if you need a workstation card then you can also use it for games. All you loose is a few fps over the Geforce/Radeon equivalent of your workstation card.

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Megaphone

Workstation-class video card

"RemoteFX requires [...] a workstation-class video card. (AMD Firepro/FIrestream or nVidia Quadro.) "

Not true. RemoteFX works fine with a standard Geforce or Radeon card with at least 512MB memory (real memory, not 'TurboCache' or similar stuff!). BTDT with a Radeon HD 4870 2GB under Hyper-V Server 2008 R2 (yes, the free Hyper-V Server does support RemoteFX).

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@Davidoff

Interesting.

Microsoft's literature explicitly says this is unsupported. They say that in theory anything that is DX10 with real RAM should work, but lay out the caveat that driver support and hardware delta make it nearly impossible to make a positive claim for this.

Indeed, I have been able to get *some* desktop-class cards to work, but others that should meet the specs flat out don't. Even similar generation gear (4870 x2s) from two different manufacturers are different. Some work, others don't!

It should also be noted that Microsoft explicitly states that there are some nebulous “minimum performance requirements” for this to work. (I.E. your Radeon 5500 probably won’t work, real RAM or not.)

I expect that the recent mid-high to high-end cards from both nVidia and AMD should work, as they have been billed as being “GPGPU capable” cards.

The officially supported list however contains only workstation-class cards, and the desktop class stuff is still very hit-or-miss.

Curious to see if the new 7000 series work; better than any workstation card I know of for performance!

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"Microsoft's literature explicitly says this is unsupported. "

Yes, but 'unsupported' != 'doesn't work'. It just means that you're on your own if something doesn't work. Dual GPU cards are usually a bad choice as they don't work reliably (or at all) with RemoteFX. And AMDs drivers can be a hit and miss, especially as they need manual fiddling to be installed on Windows Server (the installer blocks all Windows Server variants). I had less problems with Nvidia cards.

"some nebulous “minimum performance requirements” for this to work. (I.E. your Radeon 5500 probably won’t work, real RAM or not.)"

Radeon 5450 with 512MB works, even an on-board Radeon 4200 works fine.

Radeon HD 7000 series should work once there is some usable driver for it.

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Consumer cards

You can use a consumer line card, it is simply unsupported and driver support is not guaranteed. I have it set up running (not very well mind you) on an AMD onboard 4000 series (using system ram, no less!).

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Holmes

So I heard you like X11 ...

I remember his Billsian Gateness proclaiming the X server idea (or maybe the protocol) as "insanely dumb", then proceeding to fag up the world with crashing fat clients.

Ah well, good ideas don't die, they just come back rebadged and appropriated.

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Anonymous Coward

If you really think X11 is the same as RemoteFX then you clearly have no clue.

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Anonymous Coward

The same?

Far superior, in fact. Know why? Because I have a bigger penis, that's why!

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Anonymous Coward

And that's a downvote proving at least one person can't understand unsubtle sarcasm...

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Don't forget the licensing

If you are going to use RemoteFX, remember to license it - http://bit.ly/zR46EX

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Anonymous Coward

No thanks

Looks like a redmond solution looking for problem.

Why would you take a requirement for high-performance graphics and string it over a lan?

NaCl anyone? Keep the high-bandiwdth stuff local.

And as for DRM... has anyone else rented a DVD, found it wouldn't play on your pc and then downloaded it?

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Anonymous Coward

stack of ?? videos

As I didn't hijack any ship to get my videos, can we now call them copyright-infriging rather then pirated to avoid falling in the lobby industry's vocabulary trap? Please?

What next? Kidnapped videos? Oh, I know: terror videos.

Seriously.

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Will it play Crysis?

Actually no, not fully as FX is only Directx 9. To play either Crysis 1 or 2 properly you want at least DX 10 or 11 (for 2). When this question used to be asked it was about playing the game with nothing turned down. Also when did 'can it play Crysis' become yes because the second console optimized game is used as the benchmark. Cyrsis 1 and 2 are completely different propositions.

Thanks for taking an interesting article about RemoteFX and ruining it with your, ineptitude when it comes to games. I think you have made yourselves look stupid to both your server and gaming audiences.

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DX 10 or 11 adds virtually NOTHING to either Crysis, Warhead or Crysis 2. The games and media are designed for DX 9. The DX 10 pathway is almost indistinguishable to the DX 9 pathway in all cases.

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Ahhaa?

"Most applications exclusively lock the GPU when they use it. "

Huh? No they don't.

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FAIL

"Coming late to the discussion I know, but doesn't VirtualBox do that? https://www.virtualbox.org/manual/ch04.html#guestadd-video I can install the enlightened drivers onto the guest machines that exposes 3D functionality to them. They can happily do 3D stuff as if the virtual graphics card was "real". I've had Compiz running within Ubuntu (guest), running within Win7 (host). I've been playing with it for a while now and performance is passable. When I get enough spare time, I'm going to try it the other way round (Win7 guest under Linux host) to see what has better performance (I'm guessing the current setup). Combine the above with VirtualBox's handy RDP extension and haven't I just replicated VDI with £D acceleration (in principle anyway, I don't think they've implemented the current version of the protocol yet)."

I'm currently trying (and failing) to even get youtube/iplayer flash video to play in a Vbox XP guest. With 3D Acceleration enabled, I got no video and very sporadic bursts of audio, and with 3D (or 3D and 2D) Acceleration disabled, I see video but it advances about 5 seconds every second!

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