Does STK Run in a Virtual Environment?

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QuestionDoes Systems Tool Kit run in a virtual environment?
Answer
As many organizations migrate from physical desktop computers to virtual desktop infrastructures (VDI) AGI is hard at work determining the optimal configuration recommendations for these systems. At present, there are no known problems running Systems Took Kit (STK) in a virtual environment, assuming that your environment gives sufficient OpenGL support to the client. The document attached to this article provides insight into how STK functions and performs in virtual environments and offers guidance to users when selecting a virtual environment.

The basic system requirements for a VDI are the same as the standard system requirements for STK as installed on a desktop computer; refer to the System Requirements topic in the STK help system for further details. NVidia’s Grid Card for GPU’s (NVidia Grid k520) has performed well in virtual environments in AGI's preliminary testing. Please note that running STK in a virtual environment requires the STK Network Token License; Nodelocked licenses are not supported.

Below are some example configurations provided by our customers who have had success running STK in a virtual environment.

Configuration 1

Specs
  • STK 10.1.3
  • 512 MB video memory per VM
  • 1 quad core CPU per VM (the servers have dual E5-2697 v2 CPUs at 2.7 GHz)
  • Testing with up to 8 GB RAM
  • vSGA (uses the VM Tools svga driver, which is hardware accelerated via the VMware View configuration)
  • Vmxnet3 Ethernet adaptor
  • Current VM Tools/drivers as of vSphere 5.5 U2 (version 9.4.10)
  • All other virtual hardware is the default set for a 64 bit Windows 7 VM on vSphere 5.5 U2
  • VMware Horizon View 6.0.2
  • Restricted to PCoIP protocol (no Microsoft RDP or HTML connections)
  • Registry setting to uncap the PCoIP frame rate is configured
  • The pools are set for vSGA hardware accelerated graphics only
Results
  • vGPU mode (requires ESXi 6.0 or higher) supports 16 users per nVidia GRID K1
  • vDGA mode supports 4 users per nVidia GRID K1, and up to 2 users per nVidia GRID K2. Note: vDGA only offers slight improvements over vSGA
  • vSGA - here we had to disable use of Collada model files (Edit > Preferences > Open GL) doing this fixed issue where STK crashing on insertion of object.  Texture/object heavy scenarios perform poorly. In other case performance was acceptable.

Configuration 2

Specs
  • ESX/ESXi Version VMware ESXi, 5.5.0, 2638301
  • Image Profile (Updated HP-ESXi-5.5.0-iso-5.72.27
  • Graphic setup: NVIDIAGRID K2 Vendor NIVDIA Corporation
  • (DIRECT) vDGA note: PCI Device pass-through required for this!
  • Software video driver for ESXi host:
  • NVIDIA-VMware-x86_64-319.65-1OEM.550.0.0.1331820-bundle (zip)
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  • Virtual Machine setup:
  • Gest OS: Microsoft Windows 7 (64bit)
  • VM Version: vmx-10
  • CPU: 2
  • Memory: 49G RAM (not MAX utilized)
  • Hard Disk 1: 80 GB
  • Hard Disk 2: 60 GB
  • Video Card: Specify custom settings
    • number of displays: 1
    • Total video Memmory:    512    MB
    • 3D Graphics <check> Enable 3D Support
    • 3D Renderer Hardware
    • PCI Device 007:00.0 | NVIDIS Corporation
    • Note: Boot the host and installed NVIDIA driver for the Windows 7 virtual Machine
    • Window NVIDIA video driver:   348.07-quadro-grid-desktop-notebook-win8-win7-64bit-international-whql
    • Note: Will have to manually disable the (VMware SVGA 3D) in Device Manger AFTER installing the above driver,
    • this is so that the NOW recognized and installed driver will Default to NVIDIA GRID K2. on next reboot
    • Also, note: you have to poweroff/shutdown and or Reboot from the Vmware Web client after you do disable
    • VMware SVGD 3D.
    • Verify you can now used the vView Desktop Manager in the Virtual Machine, Change Profile Manager to used (CAD)
    • Install STK Client side software or some other 3D intense application.
    • Reboot and verify it comes back up again before moving on..
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  • Horizon View Connection Server 6.0
  • In Vmware Horizon View Administrator http://<connection-server>/admin
  • Create: Desktop pool, MANUAL Desktop Pool and add the signal VM (created above) with the Direct Pass-through
  • NVIDIA card and driver to that signal pool, (Note: this MANUAL POOL only has/get a signal VM)
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  • On a physical PC, some were in your domain. Install Horzion view client software:
  • VMware-viewclient-x86_64-5.3.0-1042023
  • Verify STK performs well through this client software (Note: Had terrible results through Microsoft RDP)
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The other consideration that will impact performance is remote access to the cloud VM; this is an area that requires further testing and investigation. Customers are welcome to perform their own investigations, in parallel, on the various options available, such as OTOY and Citrix XenApp. Some remote access solutions have known deficiencies either in performance or graphics capability such as Remote Desktop Connection and TightVNC.