Autodesk Inventor on Citrix with accelerated graphics? Why not?

Application virtualization and the application publishing technology for intranet and internet users is already available for a long time, but it has been limited so far rather for office applications for performance reasons.

Hardware and software vendors now offer technologies allowing to access substantial graphical performance - yesterday's main limitation - which opens virtualization also for most demanding applications like CAD (or games). Autodesk also officially supports running its CAD software applications on virtualization platforms, specifically on Citrix XenApp and Citrix XenDesktop (there is a preferred partnership between Autodesk and Citrix). The list of supported applications and their system requirements can be found here.

Technical background
The single requirement on the side of Autodesk CAD software is to own a classic network license (NLM) - former requirements for a special Citrix license have been lifted since version 2014. On the Citrix virtualization server side, the key component today is the HDX 3D Pro technology, offering a set of graphics acceleration technologies like Direct 3D (used by Inventor), OpenGL or CUDA. These technologies allow to set profiles assigned to individual users in 3 levels, so that precious graphical performance is available exactly there where it is needed. In the highest, third level, suitable also for demanding CAD applications, the maximum graphical performance, or even direct access to the graphics card is available. This profile also supports 3D mice (controllers) often used by designers for easier control of 3D scenes. The hardware-level key component is a graphics card based on the nVidia Grid technology. Which type of card to choose from this type series? This decision depends on the expected load and application type. You can estimate the requirements from the following table:

What are the benefits of this scenario and when to consider it?

  • Workstation purchase costs - you don't need to invest in multiple expensive workstations
  • Service and maintenance - internal or external IT staff does not need to service this local hardware
  • Access from anywhere - CAD tools are available not only on-site but also remotely - designers can work from home
  • Multiplatform access – the client access works not only from Windows, but on any platform with Citrix XenApp clients (Android and iOS tablets, Linux and Apple computers)

We know how
CAD Studio in cooperation with AutoCont is ready to implement this platform at their customers.

The real customer experience with Autodesk Inventor can be assessed from the attached videos – comparing always the same task first on a standard mobile workstation and then in a virtualized Inventor session: