This section describes the key hardware and software components of the solution.
This section describes the Cisco UCS servers that are recommended for VDI.
Cisco UCS C-Series servers
Cisco Unified Computing System (Cisco UCS) C-Series rack servers keep pace with Intel Xeon processor innovation by offering the latest processors, with increased processor frequency and improved security and availability features. With the increased performance that is provided by Intel Xeon Scalable processors, C-Series servers offer an improved price-to-performance ratio. They also extend Cisco UCS innovations to an industry-standard rackmount form factor, including a standards-based unified network fabric, Cisco VN-Link virtualization support, and Cisco Extended Memory Technology.
Designed to operate both in stand-alone environments and as part of a Cisco UCS-managed configuration, these servers enable organizations to incrementally deploy systems use as many or as few servers as needed on a schedule that best meets the organization's timing and budget.
Many organizations prefer rackmount servers because of the wide range of I/O options that are available in the form of PCIe adapters. C-Series servers support a broad range of I/O options, including interfaces that are supported by Cisco and adapters from third parties such as NVIDIA GPUs.
For VDI-optimized configurations, you can deploy a cluster with as few as three nodes, providing an ideal environment for small deployments. This cluster can be scaled to more than 600 Cisco UCS B-Series servers or 1,000 C-Series servers per VxBlock 1000.
The following Cisco UCS C-Series servers are recommended for VDI:
Both the UCS C220 M5 and UCS C240 M5 rack servers incorporate Intel Xeon Scalable processors and support:
Cisco UCS B-Series servers
The Cisco UCS B200 M5 blade server is also recommended for VDI. The B200 M5 server delivers performance, flexibility, and optimization for deployments in data centers, in the cloud, and at remote sites. This enterprise-class server offers high performance, versatility, and density for workloads, including VDI, web infrastructure, distributed databases, converged infrastructure, and enterprise applications such as Oracle and SAP HANA. It can quickly deploy stateless physical and virtual workloads through programmable, easy-to-use Cisco UCS Manager and Cisco Intersight. Cisco SingleConnect technology provides simplified server access.
The Ready Architectures for VDI team recommend the VDI-optimized 2U Cisco UCS C240 M5 rack servers that support GPU hardware for graphics-intensive desktop deployments. The C240 M5 can be configured with or without GPUs. Dell EMC also offers similar configurations in a 1U C220 M5 rack server and the B200 M5 blade server, although graphics configurations are limited on these platforms. B-Series servers also support P4 NVIDIA GPUs although only for small GPU-based workloads.
We designated these configurations as A3, B5, and C7. The following table gives further details:
2 x Intel Xeon Silver 4114 (10 core 2.2 GHz)
192 GB (12 x 16 GB @ 2,400 MHz)
Up to 2 x full length, dual width (FLDW)
For small-scale, proof of concept (POC), or low- density, cost-conscious environments
2 x Intel Xeon Gold 5120 (14 core 2.2 GHz)
384 GB (12 x 32 GB @ 2,400 MHz)
Up to 2 x FLDW
Geared toward larger-scale, general-purpose workloads; balances performance and cost-effectiveness
2 x Intel Xeon Gold 6138 (20 core 2.0 GHz)
768 GB (24 x 32 GB @ 2,667 MHz)
Up to 2 x FLDW
Offers an abundance of high-performance features and tiered capacity that maximizes user density
This section describes the recommended storage components for a VDI solution on VxBlock 1000.
XtremIO X2 X-Brick
Dell EMC XtremIO X2 is the preferred block-based storage array when designing for the VDI workload on VxBlock 1000. The XtremIO system is an enterprise-class scalable all-flash storage array that provides rich data services with high performance. It is designed to unlock flash technology’s full performance potential by using the characteristics of SSDs. The XtremIO X2 array uses advanced inline data reduction methods to reduce the physical data that has to be stored on the disks.
The XtremIO storage system uses industry-standard components and proprietary intelligent software to deliver high levels of performance, achieving consistent low latency for up to millions of IOPS. It comes with a simple, easy-to-use interface for storage administrators. The system fits a wide variety of use cases for customers in need of a fast and efficient storage system for their data centers, requiring minimal setup planning before provisioning.
XtremIO all-flash technology delivers value across multiple dimensions, including:
XtremIO X2 is the new generation of Dell EMC’s all-flash array storage system. It includes enhancements and added flexibility in several aspects when compared to the storage array’s previous generation. The new features include scale-up for a more flexible system, write boost for a high-performing storage array, NVRAM for improved data availability, and a new web-based UI for managing the storage array and monitoring its alerts and performance stats.
The XtremIO X2 array uses a building block that is called an X-Brick. Each X-Brick block has its own compute, bandwidth, and storage resources. You can cluster X-Brick blocks together to increase performance and capacity (scale-out). You can increase the capacity a single X-Brick block by adding up to 72 SSDs.
The XtremIO architecture is based on a metadata-centric, content-aware system that helps streamline data operations efficiently. Movement of data post-write for maintenance reasons (for example, for data protection, data reduction, and so on) is not required because these tasks are all carried out inline. The system lays out the data uniformly across all SSDs in all X-Brick blocks in the system, using unique fingerprints for the incoming data, and it controls access using metadata tables. This architecture contributes to a balanced system across all X-Brick blocks in terms of compute power, storage bandwidth, and capacity.
Isilon storage is the preferred NAS solution for unstructured user data for a VDI design on VxBlock 1000. Isilon storage is a scale-out NAS solution that delivers increased performance for file-based data applications and workflows from a single file-system architecture.
Isilon storage provides scale-out capacity for use as NFS and SMB CIFS shares within VMware vSphere VMs. For additional information about the Isilon storage solution as it applies to VDI, see File workload guidance.
Other storage options
While the XtremeIO X2 system is the preferred array for VDI workloads within VxBlock 1000, it might be appropriate to select one of the other storage offerings within the Dell EMC product portfolio in some instances. Examples of where this may be the case include:
These other storage options are briefly detailed in the following sections.
Dell EMC Unity XT
Dell EMC Unity XT All-flash storage arrays offer an alternative storage solution that combines block and file services into a single system that is complementary to the architectural requirements of a VDI workload. The individual storage arrays can be leveraged in the overall VDI design as consumable building blocks that allow for predictable performance and scaling.
Dell EMC Unity XT starts in a sleek 2U form factor with a modern architecture designed for all-flash performance. The design includes linear multicore scaling, inline data reduction with zero detect for block and file, zero impact drive firmware-based garbage collection, write coalescing minimizing IO, and intelligent wear leveling capabilities. An optional high-density enclosure supports eighty flash drives in just three rack units, for even greater space efficiency.
Unity XT all-flash technology delivers value across multiple dimensions, including:
Engineered from the ground-up to meet market demands for all-flash performance, efficiency and lifecycle simplicity, Dell EMC Unity XT All-Flash Storage Arrays are NVMe-ready, implement a dual active architecture, contain dual socket Intel processors with up to 16-cores and more system memory. All these modern features enable Dell EMC Unity XT to deliver 2X performance and 75 percent less latency compared to previous generations. Additionally, Dell EMC Unity XT also provide significant efficiency gains. These arrays reduce system overhead to provide 85 percent platform efficiency. When you turn on the inline data reduction features – up to 5:1 data reduction – to combine with the platform efficiency, you’ll get up to 31 percent more effective capacity than many other midrange systems.
All-inclusive, feature rich, array-based software comes standard with every Dell EMC Unity XT All Flash Storage model. Optional offerings include differentiated hardware and software deployment options, availability and mobility, protection and networking options. Dell EMC Unity All-Flash systems come standard with limited warranty, with enhanced and premium options available.
The following table shows the physical specifications of Unity XT 480F, 680F, and 880F arrays:
Minimum/maximum number of drives
A 2U Disk Processor Enclosure (DPE) with 25 2.5-inch drives
Drive array enclosure (DAE)
All-Flash (F) models support 2.5-inch drives in 2U 25-drive and 3U 80-drive trays. Hybrid models support 2.5-inch drives in 2U 25-drive and 3U 80-drive trays, and 3.5-inch drives in 3U 15-drive trays.
Standby power system
Unity systems are powered by two power supplies (PS) per DPE/DAE. Each power supply can provide power to the entire module if the peer PS has been removed or is faulty. DPE power during a power failure is provided by a Battery Back Up (BBU) module. The BBU is located within the SP enclosure and provides power to a single module (power zone).
1/0, 5, 6 1/0, 5, 6 1/0, 5, 6
CPU per array
2 x dual-socket Intel CPUs, 32 cores per array, 1.8 GHz
2 x dual-socket Intel CPUs, 48 cores per array, 2.1 GHz
2 x dual-socket Intel CPUs, 64 cores per array, 2.1 GHz
System memory/cache per array
Maximum number of Mezzanine cards per array
Maximum number of I/O modules per array
Embedded SAS I/O ports per array
4 x 4 lane 12 Gb/s SAS ports for BE Connection
For design guidance in relation to environments where a Unity XT array is used for both block and file storage, see the Design Guidance for a VDI Environment with Dell EMC Unity XT All-Flash Storage White Paper.
PowerMax storage arrays are a new family of Dell EMC NVMe storage. These arrays deliver:
With a base capacity of 13 TBu, the PowerMax array can provide up to 4.42 PBe capacity through inline compression and deduplication. The PowerMax array can provide up to 6.7 million IOPS of performance.
NVIDIA GRID vGPU brings the full benefit of NVIDIA hardware-accelerated graphics to virtualized solutions. This technology provides graphics performance for virtual desktops that is equivalent to local PCs while sharing a GPU among multiple users.
GRID vGPU is advanced technology for sharing true GPU hardware acceleration between multiple virtual desktops without compromising the graphics experience. NVIDIA GRID offers three software variants to enable graphics for different virtualization techniques:
Dell EMC Ready Architectures for VDI can be configured with the following NVIDIA Tesla GPUs:
Ready Architectures for VDI on appliances enable flexibility in networking selections. VDI validations have been successfully performed with the following hardware, although several other choices are available:
VMware vSphere provides a powerful, flexible, and secure foundation that enables business agility and accelerates the digital transformation to cloud computing.
vSphere provides the following benefits for VDI applications:
The architecture that this guide describes is based on VMware Horizon 7, which provides a complete end-to-end solution delivering Microsoft Windows virtual desktops to users on a wide variety of endpoint devices. Virtual desktops are dynamically assembled on demand, providing users with pristine, yet personalized, desktops each time they log in.
VMware Horizon 7 provides a complete virtual desktop delivery system by integrating several distributed components with advanced configuration tools that simplify the creation and real-time management of the virtual desktop infrastructure.
The core Horizon components include:
VMware Horizon 7 offers the following methods for cloning desktops:
See the VMware Horizon 7 Instant-Clone Desktops and RDSH Servers White Paper for more information.
Users can use a variety of client components to access the virtual desktops:
The following table lists the client components that Dell EMC recommends.
Dell Wyse 3040 thin client
Dell's lightest, smallest, and most power-efficient thin client.
Common tasks and basic productivity
Dell Wyse 5070 thin client
A single thin-client platform that has multiple operating system and connectivity options and can be monitored, maintained, and serviced remotely.
Knowledge workers who need powerful virtual desktop performance and support for unified communications solutions such as Skype for Business
Dell Wyse 5070 Extended thin client
A thin client that offers an on-board graphics card for offloading and supporting up to four 4K monitors plus two 2K monitors (for a total of 6).
Knowledge workers who need powerful virtual desktop performance and support for several monitors