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Foud nice project VirtualGL (http://www.virtualgl.org/). Tried to run 3D fames (EVE Online, Prototype) on server and display the output on thin client using 100Mbps network. Server: Gentoo Linux on AMD Phoenom II x6 3.4Gz, 8GB RAM, 2x NVIDIA 9800 GTX in single session with display resulution 1024x768 on client. Performance is very promising. Going to increase network speed to 1Gbps (using either Ethernet or Fiber) and run 5-6 clients simultenously.

My questions are:

a) what would be better for network - 1Gbps Ethernet or Fiber (clients are distributed in max 20m around server)? Is that a must to use managed switch for better network performance? b) Should I increase number of video cards to put in SLI on server (going to use Gigabyte GA-890FXA-UD7 which has 6 PCIExpress slots [2 x4, 2 x8 and 2 x16]). Will it impact performance significantly. If I need to increase the number of video cards - what would be better - put 2 banks of video cards with 3 in bank using SLI, or 3 banks with 2 in the bank? Would linux recognize that and properly use all banks of video cards? c) any suggestions on good thin clients supporting 1920x1080 HDMI video and 1Gbps network

I understand that my questions can't be answered clearly (unless someone already managed to use this kind of stuff ;)) although any suggestions would be very helpful.

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2 Answers 2

Odd question to ask here and good luck with the 5-6 users trying to use the 2 x 9800's at the same time but with regard to your questions then;

a) you'll see little if any difference between copper and fibre at 1Gbps for the distances you mention and a managed switch usually doesn't inherently make your network quicker, it just allows you to see what your switch is doing so that you can choose to reengineer it for better performance/resilience based on actual traffic flows.

b) yes, video cards really don't like being virtualised right now (some NVidia Tegra ones can but that's more for OpenCL/CUDA really not CG, so yes adding GPUs would help to some degree. Oh and SLI almost certainly won't help, you'd be better off with more discrete cards.

c) HP's t5740e does 1920x1080 over 1Gbps ethernet.

Good luck with this project of yours it's new ground so won't be easy - oddly enough I'd doing something functionally similar on a large commercial basis and that hasn't been easy either.

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I think I can answer the first question: if your clients are that close, Gigabit ethernet is equal to fiber but less expensive. so that's your answer there.

As for network performance, the important thing to realize is that some cheaper 40-port gigabit switch cannot handle 40 Gbps of sustained traffic. Rather, a single bank has a limit for the net usage of its ports.

If you have such a switch you'll just want to have a single client (or two, if price is an issue) per bank.

As for the additional capability of a managed switch, you won't need QoS. That's only really needed when you have different types of traffic running simultaneously, some of which is time-dependent: say, running bittorrent at the same time as a Skype call. Obviously it's more important that the Skype call packets get priority so you don't have any lag. But in this case you won't need that since all your network traffic would be at the same priority, high.

Also consider that link saturation is very difficult. You would probably want to use two ethernet ports and use 802.11ad to bond them: the best bonding methods all require hardware support and configuration on the switch side, which usually translates to a managed switch.

Lastly, consider that higher price will get you higher performance :)

So in summary: get a good switch, and get a managed switch if you plan on maximizing server bandwidth (which I think you'll need if you increase res to 1920x1080 and clients to 6).

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Lots of 40 port gigabit switches can handle 40Gbps of sustained traffic - I know lots of cheaper switches use port-groups (say 4:1 ratio or similar) but I don't have a single switch that's not 'non-blocking'. –  Chopper3 Jan 14 '11 at 13:23
@Chopper3 thanks, updated my answer –  Michael Lowman Jan 14 '11 at 13:27

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