Graphics overview

This section provides an overview of XenServer’s virtual delivery of 3D professional graphics applications and workstations. The offerings include GPU Pass-through (for NVIDIA, AMD and Intel GPUs) and hardware-based GPU sharing with NVIDIA GRID™ vGPU™, AMD MxGPU™, and Intel GVT-g™.

GPU Pass-Through

In a virtualized system, most of the physical system components are shared. These components are represented as multiple virtual instances to multiple clients by the hypervisor. A pass-through GPU is not abstracted at all, but remains one physical device. Each hosted virtual machine (VM) gets its own dedicated GPU, eliminating the software abstraction and the performance penalty that goes with it.

XenServer allows you to assign a physical GPU (in the XenServer host) to a Windows or HVM Linux VM running on the same host. This GPU Pass-Through feature is intended for graphics power users, such as CAD designers.

Shared GPU

Shared GPU allows one physical GPU to be used by multiple VMs concurrently. Because a portion of a physical GPU is used, performance is greater than emulated graphics, and there is no need for one card per VM. This feature enables resource optimization, boosting the performance of the VM. The graphics commands of each virtual machine are passed directly to the GPU, without translation by the hypervisor.

Licensing note

Graphics Virtualization is available for XenServer Enterprise Edition customers, or customers who have access to XenServer through their Virtual Apps and Desktops entitlement. To learn more about XenServer editions, and to find out how to upgrade, visit the Citrix website here. For more information, see Licensing.

Vendor support

The following table lists GPU and shared GPU support for guests:

  GPU for Windows VMs GPU for HVM Linux VMs Shared GPU For Windows VMs Virtual GPU for Linux VMs
AMD YES   YES  
Intel YES   YES  
NVIDIA YES YES YES YES

You might need a vendor subscription or a license depending on the graphics card used.

vGPU XenMotion

vGPU XenMotion enables a VM that uses a virtual GPU to perform XenMotion, Storage XenMotion, or VM Suspend. VMs with vGPU XenMotion capabilities can be migrated to avoid downtime.

To use vGPU XenMotion, your VM must run on a graphics card that supports this feature and has the supported drivers from the GPU vendor installed.

The following restrictions apply when using vGPU XenMotion:

  • XenMotion of VMs from the previous versions of XenServer is not supported.

  • XenMotion is not compatible with GPU Pass-through.

  • VMs must have the appropriate vGPU drivers installed to be supported with any vGPU XenMotion features. The in-guest drivers must be installed for all guests using vGPU.

  • Reboot and shutdown operations on a VM are not supported while a migration is in progress. These operations can cause the migration to fail.

  • Linux VMs are not supported with any vGPU XenMotion features.

  • Making disk and memory snapshots are not supported.

  • After migrating a VM using vGPU XenMotion, the guest VNC console might become corrupted. Use ICA, RDP, or another network-based method for accessing VMs after a vGPU XenMotion has been performed.

  • VDI migration uses XenMotion, therefore requires enough vGPU space on the host to make a copy of the vGPU instance on the host. If the physical GPUs are fully used, VDI migration might not be possible.

Vendor support

The following table lists support for vGPU XenMotion:

  GPRU for Windows VMs GPU for HVM Linux VMs Shared GPU for Windows VMs Virtual GPU for Linux VMs
NVIDIA     YES  

For more information about the graphics cards that support this feature, see the vendor-specific sections of this guide. Customers might need a vendor subscription or a license depending on the graphics card used.

Guest support and constraints

XenServer 7.6 supports the following guest operating systems for virtual GPU.

NVIDIA vGPU

Windows guests:

  • Windows 7 (32-bit/64-bit)
  • Windows 8.1 (32-bit/64-bit)
  • Windows 10 (64-bit)
  • Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 (64-bit)
  • Windows Server 2012 (64-bit)
  • Windows Server 2012 R2 (64-bit)
  • Windows Server 2016 (64-bit)

HVM Linux guests:

  • RHEL 7.x
  • CentOS 7.x
  • Oracle Linux 7.x
  • Scientific Linux 7.x
  • Ubuntu 14.04
  • Ubuntu 16.04
  • Ubuntu 18.04

AMD MxGPU

Windows guests:

  • Windows 7 SP1 (64-bit)
  • Windows 10 (64-bit)
  • Windows Server 2016 (64-bit)

Intel GVT-g

Windows guests:

  • Windows 7 (32-bit/64-bit)
  • Windows 8.1 (32-bit/64-bit)
  • Windows 10 (64-bit)
  • Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 (64-bit)
  • Windows Server 2012 R2 (64-bit)
  • Windows Server 2016 (64-bit)

Constraints

  • XenServer supports only one GPU per VM.

  • XenServer automatically detects and groups identical physical GPUs across hosts in the same pool. If assigned to a group of GPUs, a VM can be started on any host in the pool that has an available GPU in the group.

  • All graphics solutions (NVidia vGPU, Intel GVT-d, Intel GVT-G, AMD MxGPU, and vGPU pass-through) can be used in in an environment that makes use of high availability. However, VMs that use these graphics solutions cannot be protected with high availability. These VMs can be restarted on a best-effort basis while there are hosts with the appropriate free resources.

Graphics overview