When you create or edit a desktop pool of virtual machines, you can configure 3D graphics rendering for your desktops. Desktops can take advantage of Virtual Shared Graphics Acceleration (vSGA), Virtual Dedicated Graphics Acceleration (vDGA), or shared GPU hardware acceleration (NVIDIA GRID vGPU). vDGA and NVIDIA GRID vGPU are vSphere features that use physical graphics cards installed on the ESXi hosts and manage the graphics processing unit (GPU) resources among the virtual machines.

Note:

This feature is not available to instant clones in Horizon 7.0.

End users can take advantage of 3D applications for design, modeling, and multimedia, which typically require GPU hardware to perform well. For users that do not require physical GPU, a software option provides graphics enhancements that can support less demanding applications such as Windows AERO, Microsoft Office, and Google Earth. Following are brief descriptions of the 3D graphics options:

NVIDIA GRID vGPU (shared GPU hardware acceleration)

Available with vSphere 6.0 and later, this feature allows a physical GPU on an ESXi host to be shared among virtual machines. This feature offers flexible hardware-accelerated 3D profiles ranging from lightweight 3D task workers to high-end workstation graphics power users.

AMD Multiuser GPU using vDGA

Available with vSphere 6.0 and later, this feature allows multiple virtual machines to share an AMD GPU by making the GPU appear as multiple PCI passthrough devices. This feature offers flexible hardware-accelerated 3D profiles, ranging from lightweight 3D task workers to high-end workstation graphics power users.

Virtual Dedicated Graphics Acceleration (vDGA)

Available with vSphere 5.5 and later, this feature dedicates a single physical GPU on an ESXi host to a single virtual machine. Use this feature if you require high-end, hardware-accelerated workstation graphics.

Note:

Some Intel vDGA cards require a certain vSphere 6 version. See the VMware Hardware Compatibility List at http://www.vmware.com/resources/compatibility/search.php. Also, for Intel vDGA, the Intel integrated GPU is used rather than discrete GPUs, as is the case with other vendors.

Virtual Shared Graphics Acceleration (vSGA)

Available with vSphere 5.1 and later, this feature allows multiple virtual machines to share the physical GPUs on ESXi hosts. This feature is suitable for mid-range 3D design, modeling, and multimedia applications.

Soft 3D

Software-accelerated graphics, available with vSphere 5.0 and later, allows you to run DirectX 9 and OpenGL 2.1 applications without requiring a physical GPU. Use this feature for less demanding 3D applications such as Windows Aero themes, Microsoft Office 2010, and Google Earth.

Because NVIDIA GRID vGPU, AMD Multiuser GPU using vDGA, and all vDGA solutions use PCI pass-through on the ESXi host, live VMotion is not supported. vSGA and Soft 3D support live VMotion.

In some cases, if an application such as a video game or 3D benchmark forces the desktop to display in full screen resolution, the desktop session can be disconnected. Possible workarounds include setting the application to run in Windowed mode or matching the View session desktop resolution to the default resolution expected by the application.

Requirements for All Types of 3D Rendering

To enable 3D graphics rendering, your pool deployment must meet the following requirements:

  • The virtual machines must be Windows 7 or later.

  • The pool must use PCoIP or VMware Blast Extreme as the default display protocol.

  • Users must not be allowed to choose their own protocol.

Important:

When you configure or edit the 3D Renderer setting, you must power off existing virtual machines, verify that the machines are reconfigured in vCenter Server, and power on the machines to cause the new setting to take effect. Restarting a virtual machine does not cause the new setting to take effect.

Additional Requirements for NVIDIA GRID vGPU

With NVIDIA GRID vGPU, a single physical GPU on an ESXi host can be shared among virtual machines. To support this type of shared GPU hardware acceleration, a pool must meet these additional requirements:

  • The virtual machines must run on ESXi 6.0 or later hosts, be virtual hardware version 11 or later, and be managed by vCenter Server 6.0 or later software.

    You must configure the parent virtual machine or the virtual machine template to use a shared PCI device before you create the desktop pool in View. For detailed instructions, see the NVIDIA GRID vGPU Deployment Guide for VMware Horizon 6.1.

  • You must install graphics drivers from the GPU vendor in the guest operating system of the virtual machine.

    Note:

    For a list of supported GPU hardware, see the VMware Hardware Compatibility List at http://www.vmware.com/resources/compatibility/search.php.

  • You must set the 3D Renderer option in View Administrator to NVIDIA GRID vGPU.

Additional Requirements for AMD Multiuser GPU using vDGA

With AMD Multiuser GPU using vDGA, multiple virtual machines to share an AMD GPU by making the GPU appear as multiple PCI passthrough devices. To support this type of shared GPU hardware acceleration, a pool must meet these additional requirements:

  • The virtual machines must run on ESXi 6.0 or later hosts, be virtual hardware version 11 or later, and be managed by vCenter Server 6.0 or later software.

  • You must enable GPU pass-through on the ESXi hosts, configure AMD SR-IOV (Single Root I/O Virtualization), and configure the individual virtual machines to use dedicated PCI devices. See Preparing to Use the Capabilities of AMD Multiuser GPU Using vDGA.

    Note:

    Only manual desktop pools are supported for this release.

  • You must install graphics drivers from the GPU vendor in the guest operating system of the virtual machine.

    Note:

    For a list of supported GPU hardware, see the VMware Hardware Compatibility List at http://www.vmware.com/resources/compatibility/search.php.

  • You must set the 3D Renderer option in View Administrator to Manage using vSphere Client.

Additional Requirements for Using vDGA

vDGA dedicates a single physical GPU on an ESXi host to a single virtual machine. To support vDGA, a pool must meet these additional requirements:

  • The virtual machines must run on ESXi 5.5 or later hosts, be virtual hardware version 9 or later, and be managed by vCenter Server 5.5 or later software.

    You must enable GPU pass-through on the ESXi hosts and configure the individual virtual machines to use dedicated PCI devices after the desktop pool is created in View. You cannot configure the parent virtual machine or template for vDGA and then create a desktop pool, because the same physical GPU would be dedicated to every virtual machine in the pool. See "vDGA Installation" in the VMware white paper about graphics acceleration.

    For linked-clone virtual machines, vDGA settings are preserved after refresh, recompose, and rebalance operations.

  • You must install graphics drivers from the GPU vendor in the guest operating system of the virtual machine.

    Note:

    For a list of supported GPU hardware, see the VMware Hardware Compatibility List at http://www.vmware.com/resources/compatibility/search.php.

  • You must set the 3D Renderer option to Manage using vSphere Client.

Additional Requirements for Using vSGA

vSGA allows multiple virtual machines to share the physical GPUs on ESXi hosts. To support vSGA, a pool must meet these additional requirements:

  • The virtual machines must run on ESXi 5.1 or later hosts and be managed by vCenter Server 5.1 or later software.

  • GPU graphics cards and the associated vSphere Installation Bundles (VIBs) must be installed on the ESXi hosts. For a list of supported GPU hardware, see the VMware Hardware Compatibility List at http://www.vmware.com/resources/compatibility/search.php.

  • Windows 7 machines must be virtual hardware version 8 or later. Windows 8 machines must be virtual hardware version 9 or later. Windows 10 machines must be virtual hardware version 10 or later.

  • You can set the 3D Renderer option to any of the following settings: Manage using vSphere Client, Automatic, or Hardware. See also Video RAM Configuration Options for the 3D Renderer.

    Automatic uses hardware acceleration if there is a capable and available hardware GPU in the ESXi host. If a hardware GPU is not available, the virtual machine uses software 3D rendering for any 3D tasks.

Additional Requirements for Using Soft 3D

To support software 3D rendering, a pool must meet these additional requirements:

  • The virtual machines must run on ESXi 5.0 or later hosts and be managed by vCenter Server 5.0 or later software.

  • The machines must be virtual hardware version 8 or later.

  • You must set the 3D Renderer option to Software. See also Video RAM Configuration Options for the 3D Renderer.

Video RAM Configuration Options for the 3D Renderer

When you enable the 3D Renderer setting, if you select the Automatic, Software, or Hardware option, you can configure the amount of VRAM that is assigned to the virtual machines in the pool by moving the slider in the Configure VRAM for 3D guests dialog box. The minimum VRAM size is 64MB. The default VRAM amount depends on the virtual hardware version:

  • For virtual hardware version 8 (vSphere 5.0) virtual machines, the default VRAM size is 64MB, and you can configure a maximum size of 128MB.

  • For virtual hardware version 9 (vSphere 5.1) and 10 (vSphere 5.5 Update 1) virtual machines, the default VRAM size is 96MB, and you can configure a maximum size of 512MB.

  • For virtual hardware version 11 (vSphere 6.0) virtual machines, the default VRAM size is 96MB, and you can configure a maximum size of 128MB. In vSphere 6.0 and later virtual machines, this setting refers only to the amount of display memory in the graphics card and therefore has a lower maximum setting than earlier virtual hardware versions, which included both display memory and guest memory for storing 3D objects.

The VRAM settings that you configure in View Administrator take precedence over the VRAM settings that can be configured for the virtual machines in vSphere Client or vSphere Web Client, unless you select the Manage using vSphere Client option.

For more information about the Automatic, Software, or Hardware 3D rendering options, see 3D Renderer Options.