Companies that use VMware's VDI software will soon be able to deliver 3D graphics to end users remotely, thanks to a partnership with graphics chip maker NVIDIA.
This means that those few power users who aren't suited for server-hosted VDI will be able to run their applications on virtual desktops, even when using tablets and thin clients, VMware said.
With View 5, VMware supports software-based 3D graphics, but does not support hardware accelerated 3D graphics. VMware said NVIDIA 3D graphics support will be generally available in View soon, but did not offer a time frame.
When it is available, VMware will have a feature that competitor Citrix already offers. Citrix has supported hardware-based 3D graphics since delivering XenDesktop 4 HDX in 2010.
By offering support for server-based 3D graphics, VMware also broadens the uses for VMware View.
Infinity Sales Group, a Florida-based retailer, delivers persistent View desktops to about 400 end users in its call center. Those users access their virtual desktops via Pano Logic zero clients, which are significantly simpler to manage than traditional PCs. But, the company still has to support a few PCs for developers and Human Resources because of the applications those users run, said Chuck Matulik, vice president of information technology at Infinity Sales Group.
With graphics support on the server side, companies such as Infinity Sales Group could hypothetically go entirely virtual. VMware said support for 3D graphics is also necessary for those using Office 2010 and the Windows 7 Aero interface.
View users will access the server-based NVIDIA Quadro 3D graphics Virtual Graphics Platform via a network connection. Those users can run graphics-intensive applications from anywhere with a network connection.
A major benefit for customers is that all of a company's CAD designs and 3D applications can be centrally managed and kept secure within the data center.
The downside is that the NVIDIA virtual graphics platform requires one NVIDIA card per user. So, where 100 virtual desktops may reside on a single VDI host, the number of NVIDIA VDI users per host will be much lower. But, this probably won't be an issue for a niche usage.
In addition to View, VMware Project AppBlast -- a universal access technology previewed at VMworld 2011 earlier this year -- will also support 3D applications. End users can use Project AppBlast to run applications via HTML instead of requiring an operating system to access the application.