AMD pushes Microsoft virtual desktops through new GPU

AMD's new FirePro V9800P GPU will be able support up to 22 Windows 7 virtual-desktop sessions

Advanced Micro Devices on Monday announced a FirePro graphics processor for businesses that can deliver Windows desktop sessions to remote client PCs through support for Microsoft's desktop virtualization technology.

A single FirePro V9800P GPU will be able to deliver up to 22 Windows 7 virtual-desktop sessions per graphics card, said Mitch Furman, senior product manager at AMD. The virtual desktop sessions can be delivered to a range of remote clients, including PCs and diskless thin clients, through Microsoft's proprietary RDP (Remote Desktop Protocol) transport protocol.

The remote desktops are delivered by harnessing the parallel computing power of graphics processors, Furman said. GPUs are considered to be faster than CPUs at specific scientific and math calculations, and AMD is trying to add more commercial applications so graphics processors find wider use in data centers. Graphics processors are used in some of the world's fastest supercomputers for specific calculations.

The V9800P is targeted at customers looking for workstation replacements through virtualization, or at companies like engineering firms looking to create clusters for execution of scientific or math tasks. The GPU supports Microsoft's RemoteFX, a virtual desktop technology in Windows Server 2008 R2 and Windows Server 2011, to deliver a graphics-based desktop environment to client PCs.

The graphics card also supports DirectX 11, a Windows 7 technology that can harness the parallel processing capabilities of GPUs to improve gaming and application performance on PCs. The GPU also supports OpenCL, a set of programming tools to develop and manage parallel task execution.

The GPU does not yet support VMware and Xen hypervisors, and Furman couldn't say when support for the technologies would be added.

Dell is now offering the graphics card with its PowerEdge M610x server, Furman said. The V9800P has 1,600 computing cores, with each core running at 825MHz. The graphics processor draws a maximum of 225 watts of power. The graphics processor is priced starting at US$2,499, and AMD did not immediately comment on worldwide availability.

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