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NICE DCV included with Latest GPU-enabled AMD-based VMs on AWS

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Amazon recently announced a new family of GPU accelerated Virtual Machine (VM) instances available soon on AWS. Powered by AMD 2nd Gen EPYCTM processors and new AMD RadeonTM Pro V520 graphics, the Amazon EC2 G4ad instance is designed to support demanding video and 3D graphical applications and workloads - supplied with free use of Amazon’s industry leading NICE DCV technologies.

We really have been very impressed with the NICE DCV functionality internally and thought we’d share a little more insight into them today.

What is NICE DCV?

Amazon themselves describe NICE DCV rather well and succinctly: “NICE DCV is a high-performance remote display protocol that provides customers with a secure way to deliver remote desktops and application streaming from any cloud or data center to any device, over varying network conditions. With NICE DCV and Amazon EC2, customers can run graphics-intensive applications remotely on EC2 instances, and stream their user interface to simpler client machines, eliminating the need for expensive dedicated workstations. Customers across a broad range of HPC workloads use NICE DCV for their remote visualization requirements. The NICE DCV streaming protocol is also utilized by popular services, like Amazon Appstream 2.0 and AWS RoboMaker.”

NICE DCV is a mature, efficient and sophisticated remoting protocol providing comparable functionality to protocols such as Citrix HDX/ICA, Microsoft RDP and standalone Teradici PCoIP Ultra. Being provided by Amazon themselves, there is no additional charge to use NICE DCV on Amazon EC2. You pay only for the EC2 resources you use to run and store your workloads and can avoid the need for a third-party high-end protocol unless your needs are exceptionally niche.

Some History - How Amazon have invested in graphical protocol technologies

It’s now several years since Amazon bought NICE and their DCV and EnginFrame products. NICE were extremely good at what they did. For a long time, they were one of the few vendors who could offer a decent VDI solution that supported Linux VMs, with a history in HPC and Linux they truly understood virtualization and compute as well as graphics. They’d also developed their own remoting protocol and it was one of the first to leverage GPUs for tasks like H.264 encode.

Because they supported Linux VMs and at a time when most VDI vendors were Windows only, NICE had a strong lead in the wider Cloud market. Amazon acquiring one of the best and most experienced protocol teams and the heavy investments they have subsequently made have allowed AWS to support a very compelling platform for the remote delivery of heavyweight graphical and CAD software titles. Back in December 2016, Amazon announced that they’d throw NICE DVC in for free on AWS instances, previously NICE DCV was a well-proven product with standalone customers and for many users has long offered an alternative to other Windows only VDI offerings.

Graphical Applications need GPU Support

Including a high-end protocol NICE technologies are often used in association with demanding video usage, graphically demanding 3D and CAD/AEC applications. These are exactly the type of applications that demand and benefit a GPU and the release of the Amazon EC2 G4ad instances and include AMD’s SR-IOV based GPU visualization technologies, enabling GPU support on AWS at an unmatched low cost. Being a bandwidth-adaptive streaming protocol allows NICE DCV to provide near real-time responsiveness for your applications without compromising on the accuracy of the image, whilst avoiding unnecessary bandwidth use.

More than just graphics!

There’s far more to NICE DCV with a full portfolio of enterprise features to support a fully interactive experience including:

  • Audio codecs and technologies
  • USB device remotization to support 3D pointing devices, Space mice, and similar
  • Graphics tablet and stylus support with pressure sensitivity
  • File transfer protocols
  • Printing support
  • Smart card support
  • Session to client cut-n-paste support and control
  • Native clients can support of two monitors at 4K resolution each

What’s New

Amazon recently (Nov 2020) released their latest version of NICE DCV including significant performance optimizations for high frame usage, typically associated with GPU accelerated VMs.

Looking forward with Amazon EC2 G4ad instances

As we explore more the capabilities and benefits of AMD-powered Amazon EC2 G4ad instances, we will continue to write our blogs to provide more insights into the different ways it can help businesses and industries improve efficiencies and modernize IT systems for remote and work from home (WFH) deployments. Keep up to date with the latest news and follow the AMD Instinct channel.   

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William Myrhang is a Sr. 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.