Server 2008 R2 RDS / Terminal servers - Choppy / very poor flash video performance on VMware environment

We are running 3 Server 2008 RDS session hosts in a vmware environment. The VMs are running on 3 hosts, the hosts are Poweredge R720s, each with two 10 core 2.2GHz CPUs, and 132GB of RAM. The hosts are running ESXi 5.5U2 licensed under vsphere essentials plus. Storage is an Equalogic. Each VM is assigned 10vCPUs and 32GB of RAM. I also have set 512MB of video memory. There are roughly 20 users per RDS session host.

Our issue is that the video performance is very poor. We recently migrated users from a local desktop environment to a thin client / terminal server environment. Many of the users heavily utilize YouTube and flash based video for training. When playing a flash video through RDP the video and audio is extremely choppy, even when choosing the lowest quality of 360p.

I need to know what we can do to resolve this issue. We have another environment that consist of three 2012 R2 RDS servers that does not have the same issue. I believe this is because 2012 R2 has remote FX built in, but when I tried to add the role on the 2008 RDS servers, it does not allow it since Hyper V is required. Hyper V cannot be added since its already running on a hypervisor. If there are any settings we can change please advise. I have no problem purchasing GPUs for the hosts if it will help, anything to enhance the video performance but I am not sure if a GPU will help with flash video, especially in a virtual environment. Also, if migrating these users to a 2012 RDS environment will help, I will do this as well.

Any and all suggestions are greatly appreciated.
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CCtechAsked:
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Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
For better user experience, when using videos, e.g. You Tube or flash, you will need something better than standard RDS client.

e.g. a VDI environment, such as Hyper-V with Remote FX, VMware Horizon with PCoIP, or Citrix Technology.

If you require a better user experience, and your requirements are watching videos, adding a GPU will not help, unless you switch to Horizon View or Hyper-V with RemoteFX.

I would suggest migrating the users, that have these requirements off the current RDS platform, it's not designed for video playback.
CCtechAuthor Commented:
Thanks Andrew, I have read that on multiple forums, however our 2012 environment is almost identical in terms of hardware but the video performance over a remote external RDP connection is flawless.
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
however our 2012 environment is almost identical in terms of hardware but the video performance over a remote external RDP connection is flawless.

what are you comparing here RemoteFX with no-RemoteFX, e.g. RDP ?

Do you really need 10 vCPUs per VM ?

how did you establish this? that seems excessive...and over subscribbed, normally you would scale out, e.g. more RDS servers, with less resources e.g. vCPU and Memory.
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CCtechAuthor Commented:
Andrew, we decided on 10vCPUs because each host has 40, and the hosts primary purpose is to run these RDS servers. I do not see needing to add more than 3 RDS servers for 60 users. Is this relevant to our RDP video performance though? If so I will make changes.

As for the 2012 / 2008 differences... I have a 2008 R2 RDS server and a 2012 R2 RDS server running on the same host, with the same amount of resources assigned to each VM in Vsphere. When I RDP to the 2008 RDS server and the 2012 RDS server at the same time, I can pull up the same youtube video and play them side by side. The 2012 video is smooth with crisp audio. The 2008 youtube video is very choppy with scattered audio.

When comparing and contrasting as to why this may be, I found that we had enabled remotefx on the 2012 servers via local gpedit, but when I went to enable these settings on the 2008 servers they are not available. I found that on the 2008 servers we need to add the remote fx role. I may be totally off but that is the only difference I could find between the two, when trying to determine why the video quality was fine on 2012 but poor on 2008.
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
Is this relevant to our RDP video performance though? If so I will make changes.

Interesting way of allocating vCPU, it is relevant, because more vCPUs can make performance of a VM worse.

vSMP (virtual SMP) can affect virtual machine performance, when adding too many vCPUs to virtual machines that cannot use the vCPUs effectly, e.g. Servers than can use vSMP correctly :- SQL Server, Exchange Server.

This is true, many VMware Administrators, think adding lots of processors, will increase performance - wrong! (and because they can, they just go silly!). Sometimes there is confusion between cores and processors. But what we are adding is additional processors in the virtual machine.

So 4 vCPU, to the VM is a 4 Way SMP (Quad Processor Server), if you have Enterprise Plus license you can add 8, (and only if you have the correct OS License will the OS recognise them all).

If applications, can take advantage e.g. Exchange, SQL, adding additional processors, can/may increase performance.

So usual rule of thumb is try 1 vCPU, then try 2 vCPU, knock back to 1 vCPU if performance is affected. and only use vSMP if the VM can take advantage.

Example, VM with 4 vCPUs allocated!

My simple laymans explaination of the "scheduler!"

As you have assigned 4 vCPUs, to this VM, the VMware scheulder, has to wait until 4 cores are free and available, to do this, it has to pause the first cores, until the 4th is available, during this timeframe, the paused cores are not available for processes, this is my simplistic view, but bottom line is adding more vCPUs to a VM, may not give you the performance benefits you think, unless the VM, it's applications are optimised for additional vCPUs.

See here
http://www.vmware.com/resources/techresources/10131

see here
http://www.gabesvirtualworld.com/how-too-many-vcpus-can-negatively-affect-your-performance/

http://www.zdnet.com/virtual-cpus-the-overprovisioning-penalty-of-vcpu-to-pcpu-ratios-4010025185/

also there is a document here about the CPU scheduler

www.vmware.com/files/pdf/perf-vsphere-cpu_scheduler.pdf

https://blogs.vmware.com/vsphere/2013/10/does-corespersocket-affect-performance.html

But your issue is RemoteFX versus No RemoteFX. This is to be expected, RemoteFX is graphics assisted for playback, and is different to just RDP.

If you want a better rich graphic environment for remote users, RemoteX, VMware PCoIP or Citrix is the function to use.

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CCtechAuthor Commented:
In the end we decided to migrate to 2012. The difference is night and day when using flash video over RDP. See article below:

http://blogs.msdn.com/b/rds/archive/2012/08/06/remotefx-adaptive-graphics-in-windows-server-2012-and-windows-8.aspx

Also, here you can see a video showing the performance difference as well:

http://blogs.msdn.com/b/rds/archive/2012/08/16/enabling-a-seamless-multimedia-experience-with-remotefx-media-streaming-in-windows-server-2012-and-windows-8.aspx
CCtechAuthor Commented:
I've requested that this question be closed as follows:

Accepted answer: 0 points for CCtech's comment #a40773403

for the following reason:

Moving to 2012 resolves the issue.
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
My last post states this...

But your issue is RemoteFX versus No RemoteFX. This is to be expected, RemoteFX is graphics assisted for playback, and is different to just RDP.

If you want a better rich graphic environment for remote users, RemoteX, VMware PCoIP or Citrix is the function to use.

So RemoteFX fixes the issue?
CCtechAuthor Commented:
Yes, remoteFX did fix the issue. Check out the second link I posted and scroll about halfway down and watch the video. It shows a side by side video. I stood up 2012 RDS servers on the same hardware and made no configurations of remotefx, but the difference was amazing. From my understanding, remotefx is built in to server 2012 RDS and the new codec used also is a drastic improvement.
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
Yes, I know this! We've deployed lots of it!

Hence my comments....in http:#a40766871

But your issue is RemoteFX versus No RemoteFX. This is to be expected, RemoteFX is graphics assisted for playback, and is different to just RDP.

If you want a better rich graphic environment for remote users, RemoteX, VMware PCoIP or Citrix is the function to use.
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