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Cloud Workstations on AMD GPUs and Goldilocks. It’s No Fairytale!

Many will be familiar with the tale of Goldilocks and the Three Bears, the 19th-century British fairytale, in which our protagonist encounters the home of three bears whose porridge, chairs, and beds become fair game for her to try out. After partaking of these Bear amenities, Goldilocks discovers porridge, a chair and a bed that are “just right” for her. This is known in contemporary circles as the “Goldilocks Zone.” In astronomy, the Goldilocks Zone is a habitable zone in which the temperature is just right for water to remain liquid and hence possibly support life. In any context, it’s where you want to be; it’s where you have exactly the right resources and conditions for optimal operation.

Today we’re going to talk about cloud workstations on AMD GPUs in Microsoft Azure. Yep, there’s a Goldilocks Zone for cloud workstations! This is especially relevant for manufacturing and product design firms, because they have unique CAD/CAM/CAE requirements for a wide spectrum of high-performance computing capabilities. CAD engineers/designers need the ultimate performance for their graphics-intensive apps so they can stay productive and meet tough deadlines. Others on the design team have different requirements – they may review designs or present them to customers, which can be done with less compute power. Whatever their role in the organization, when your end users are in the Zone with Workspot and AMD, they have exactly the compute power they need – no more and no less, but “just right” for them and at the right price point for the business too.

Over-provisioning is Out; Precision Compute is In

We’ve talked quite a bit about the problem of over-provisioning, but this has always been in relation to over-provisioning server resources to accommodate on-premises VDI. The reason for this now-archaic practice is that on-prem VDI is difficult to scale, so to avoid being caught short on compute power in changing business conditions, having extra capacity on-hand was the only way to quickly overcome the scalability problem. Of course, it’s expensive to over-provision, because resources are sitting idle much of the time, so that money is wasted.

The VDI over-provisioning scenario is analogous to one of Goldilocks’s chairs (too big!), but more importantly to Cloud PCs and workstations when they can’t be properly sized. In the past you had two choices. You could select a Cloud PC using a CPU instance in Azure; great for some use cases, but many modern applications really need more horsepower. For something more performant, you had a second choice: a cloud workstation using a GPU instance in Azure. While offering a great high-performance experience for designers and engineers using demanding, graphics-intensive apps, using the entire GPU was overkill for many applications. In many cases, choice #2 was too big and too expensive (in Goldilocks-speak.) So, how can you right-size for each user experience and get into the Zone?

Balancing Cost and Performance

Until recently, IT teams were in an all-or-nothing situation with cloud GPUs. AMD changed that when they introduced GPU partitioning with its Radeon Instinct™ GPUs, which power NVv4 virtual machines in Azure. You’re no longer forced to deliver the entire GPU per virtual machine. With this innovation, for the first time, IT teams are able to more precisely match individual end user compute requirements with right-sized GPU power, because the AMD GPU could now be subdivided and a fraction of it  – whether 1/2, 1/4 or 1/8 of the GPU – assigned to each user according to their needs.

Workspot offers four cloud workstation configurations across the price/performance curve, from a full 16GB GPU for the most graphics-intensive work, down to a 1/8 fractional GPU.

With Workspot it’s easy to match the right compute power to each use case.

“With the new AMD-powered Workspot cloud workstations on Azure, we now offer several perfectly sized cloud workstations for our different workloads.” says Andy Knauf, CIO Mead & Hunt. “We’ve found the new entry level cloud workstation, using a fraction of the AMD GPU, is just right for our users running Microsoft Office 365 productivity tools and Adobe design tools (Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign). This fills in an additional much-needed point on the price/performance curve, which allows us to move even more users to the AMD-powered Workspot cloud workstations on Azure.”

Scott Funk of Global Finishing Solutions said, “The workstations are connected within the data center at a 40 gig-per-second back plane, so the server-to-workstation speed is not an issue. It’s been right from the get-go. We immediately heard from the team that this was working well.” Scott added, “The ultimate goal is to have the ability to tap into a workforce that we haven’t before. We want to support employees wherever they want to work.”

Freedom to work anywhere, plus amazing performance at the right price point is a win for everyone. As Andy puts it, “All our cloud workstations across the country are working as good or better than all those desktop machines we used to buy. How can you afford NOT to go to cloud workstations?”

How to Get Started with Workspot, AMD and Azure

Cloud PCs and workstations are about modernizing end user computing whether you are moving away from physical workstations or legacy VDI. The agility, security and productivity benefits of Workspot’s SaaS platform are compelling, and we’d love to share more details about that with you. We have deep experience with onboarding manufacturing and product design firms to Azure and with getting your end users up and running on Cloud PCs and workstations fast.

The Workspot SaaS Cloud PC platform was designed for operational simplicity while also meeting complex enterprise requirements. This is one of the many ways our solution is unique in the industry. You can get started with just a few cloud workstations; be sure to test them out with your most demanding power users! Our Customer Success team works with you on any fine-tuning needed to make sure your end users are happy. We’ve worked extensively with graphics-intensive apps including SolidWorks, AutoCad, Siemens NX and many more. Watch our video to see what Siemens NX looks like on a Workspot cloud workstation!

Siemens NX running on a Workspot cloud workstation powered by AMD on Azure.

One of our customers, Barge Design, decided to test Workspot cloud workstations with their most demanding CAD designers. This is often the User Acceptance Testing (UAT) strategy for new customers in the manufacturing and product design industries, because if CAD experts love their “Workspots” so will everyone else! At Barge the initial group participating in UAT was skeptical, but once they tried their cloud workstations they never looked back. ““Now I can’t imagine a day of work without Workspot,” says CAD designer Josh Caldwell. Once your most demanding end users are happy and you have proved the value of the solution, you’re ready to move to production rollout, which we take care of for you. Then you can spin up additional Cloud PCs and cloud workstations in minutes, in any cloud region globally. And you manage everything from a single pane of glass. The agility all these capabilities bring to the business is unprecedented, and it’s what helps drive business growth. Finally, our Customer Success Team continues an ongoing engagement with you, ensuring you can take advantage of new features and bringing new ideas to your team to ensure your long-term success.

Ready to find out how Workspot cloud workstations, powered by AMD on Azure can transform your organization? Schedule a demo and we’ll show you how it works!