Virtualized environments can pose some challenges for companies. In order to bring a more consistent and user friendly experience to virtual environments, AMD and Microsoft have been working together to offer a whole new cloud experience for desktop and workstation users.
Microsoft Azure NVv4 instances are the first desktop as a service (DaaS) Virtual Machines (VMs) powered by the combination of 2nd Gen AMD EPYC™ processors and AMD Radeon Instinct™ GPUs. The NVv4, as of today, is now generally available to the public.
NVv4 represents a convergence of innovative technologies to make modern desktop experiences possible from the cloud. Enterprises can deploy affordable, cloud-native GPU-accelerated desktop environments that meet the performance and flexibility demands needed for high productivity of their employees. Just as important, NVv4 also offers state-of-the-art IT management tools to help drive success of IT organizations.
How is this possible? NVv4 instances are built on three fundamental pillars to enable cloud-native modern desktop and workstation experiences.
Today’s digital workforce relies on modern applications. Modern applications are built with GPU acceleration at their core. From the most powerful 3D design tools, to common office productivity tools, and even web browsing, everyday applications are designed to require or benefit from graphics acceleration support built in. In other words, virtual machines without GPU acceleration will often struggle with some of the most common desktop tasks.
As the first VMs on Azure to take advantage of AMD’s SR-IOV technology to enable GPU partitioning, NVv4 provides IT decision-makers with four VM options calibrated to meet the variety of use cases in the modern workplace. Whether they are a professional running a workstation-class design application or support staff using Microsoft Office 365, all users receive the performance and reliability of 2nd Gen AMD EPYC processors and Radeon Instinct GPUs. ISV certifications and optimizations for professional 3D applications further reinforce the user experience.
Support for the latest Windows 10, Windows Server and Windows 10 Enterprise multi-session operating systems provides IT with the flexibility to specify single- or multi-session configurations as needs dictate. Even when the GPU is partitioned, the individual user’s experience is indistinguishable from the experience of a locally installed GPU to which they are accustomed.
IT managers can continue to rely on the traditional remote protocols, management, and administration tools they prefer. NVv4 instances are fully supported by Windows Virtual Desktop, Citrix Cloud, Teradici Cloud Access and Workspot Cloud VDI so the migration to Azure is both smooth and familiar.
“The flexibility that Azure NVv4 with AMD-powered GPU partitioning provides for users to share and access GPU resources as needed is a valuable feature that we see will benefit many Teradici customers. We are excited to be working with Microsoft and AMD to enable more flexible, cost-effective GPU options for virtual desktop and virtual workstation use cases such as AEC.”
– Ziad Lammam, Vice President of Product Management at Teradici
Security is at the core of nearly every IT conversation. In an infrastructure where resources are shared across users and services, companies need to be confident that individual users’ data is fully protected. While Azure is built on world-class security technologies, traditional GPUs
Security runs deep into the hardware of AMD-powered Azure environments. While traditional GPUs rely on software techniques for security in virtualized environments, NVv4 is powered by SR-IOV-based GPU virtualization, enabling isolation of PCIe hardware resources to prevent unauthorized access to the data of one VM by users of other VMs. Each VM can only access the physical resource that has been allocated to it. Each VM is physically isolated from others, even when a single GPU is shared by multiple users. SR-IOV is recognised and established in the industry as one of the key standards for resource isolation – that’s why Microsoft is including this technology as part of its comprehensive plan to keep its customers safe and protected when virtualised.
"The diversity of the new AMD-based Workspot cloud desktops on Microsoft Azure is a huge deal for us. Based on the application requirements of each engineer, we can dedicate all or a fraction of the AMD GPU to their Workspot workstation on Azure. This finer resolution of control gives us the financial edge we need to move more people to Workspot cloud desktops on Azure and increase our overall productivity."
– Eric Quinn, CTO at C & S Companies
One of the biggest promises of cloud is that businesses can reduce their cost by renting exactly what they need. Yet for businesses looking to deploy GPU-accelerated VMs, this was not possible. Prior to NVv4, users could only choose between more expensive full-GPU VMs or non-GPU VMs. Even if the user didn’t need the entire performance headroom of a full GPU, they would be required to rent it. While the cost of a full GPU could be justified for the highest-end workstation workloads, most desktop experiences need a fraction of the GPU for optimal experience.
One of the key benefits of AMD-powered GPU partitioning in Azure is the ability to deliver fractions of a GPU at more affordable price points. Four AMD-powered NVv4 options are available to IT managers, making it possible to provide virtual desktop configurations that perfectly meet the particular computing workloads of different users. NVv4 instances can deliver GPU-powered desktop experiences that enable the GPU to be configured to be used by eight, four, two, or a single user as dictated by their application needs.
“As more organizations start migrating Citrix workloads to Microsoft Azure, they want to ensure that they’re delivering that same level of experience as their previous on-prem deployments. We’re excited to be partnering with AMD and Microsoft with the release NVv4 instance, as this ensures organizations can deliver graphically accelerated Citrix Workspaces with superior user experiences while also optimizing their costs.”
– Nitin Sharma, Sr Product Marketing Manager for Workspace Services at Citrix
AMD CPU and GPU powered NVv4 instances are the first GPU-accelerated virtual desktops for Azure and provides businesses with productivity, the absolute requirement for security, and the ever-present pressure to manage costs, all while providing users with an adaptable, flexible, high-performance cloud-based work environment that addresses the breadth of expectations of the modern workplace.
Businesses interested in assessing and testing DaaS environments for their operations can work with Microsoft partners like Cloud Jumper and Workspot to ensure professional and experienced teams who can help assess your business needs every step of the way from POC to deployment and migration.
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George Watkins is a Product Marketing Manager for AMD. His postings are his own opinions and may not represent AMD’s positions, strategies or opinions. Links to third party sites are provided for convenience and unless explicitly stated, AMD is not responsible for the contents of such linked sites and no endorsement is implied.