One of the big desktop announcements from last year’s VMworld was that Teradici and VMware signed an agreement to work together to develop a software version of Teradici’s PC-over-IP remote display protocol for inclusion in VMware’s desktop virtualization products. After a year of work with limited public demonstrations (video), the two companies will publicly demo their “software-to-software” implementation of PC-over-IP at VMworld 2009 in a few weeks.
I’ve written about PC-over-IP quite a bit over the past few years. For those who aren’t aware, PC-over-IP—or simply “PCoIP” for those coolios in the know—is a relatively new remote display protocol that offers a perfect user experience. The only catch is that it requires custom hardware on both ends (typically in the form of a PCI plug-in card on your remote host and a chip that’s built-in to your thin client device on the client end). This wouldn’t be too bad in-and-of itself, but unfortunately today’s PCoIP chips are single session only. So if you want to use them for VDI, you’d need an external chassis with about 50 PCI slots in it. :) The other traditional downside to PCoIP was that it didn’t do so well over the WAN, although the 2.1 firmware release addresses that quite well.
So people love PCoIP, except for that pesky hardware requirement.
VMware has struggled in the remote display protocol space. They’ve waffled between “RDP is good enough” to “we are protocol agnostic” to “we’re licensing certain components of TCX from Wyse” to “Screw it, we’re developing our own! (via the Teradici announcement). Okay, technically VMware is still agnostic, but we’ll see how long that lasts.
So anyway, last September VMware and Teradici announced that they’d work together to create a software-only version of PCoIP. Not too much is known about the details of this apart from (1) the deal is non-exclusive, so Teradici could do this (or be doing this) with other vendors, and (2) the software and hardware implementations of PCoIP will be inter-compatible in either direction. (Which is great news for the six people using it today!)
That said, folks are skeptical as to how well the software PCoIP will work. “Umm hello?... didn’t Teradici built custom chips for a reason? If this was so easy, wouldn’t ICA or RDP be doing it now?”
So what do you think? Will the software-to-software implementation of PCoIP suck? Or will it rock?
The soft-to-soft PC-over-IP will suck!
PCoIP was conceived, designed, built, architected, and implemented around the concept of having custom ASICs at each side of the connection. Sure, you can emulate that in software, but to what end? You’ll peg the CPU on the host, killing your user density.
The whole concept of a PCoIP implementation in software is dumb, and in a few more years we’ll joke over some beers about “that one time Teradici tried to build their stuff in software.”
The soft-to-soft PC-over-IP will rock!
You think Teradici isn’t aware of the challenges of implementing this thing in software? You think they didn’t consider that before signing the agreement with VMware?
True, ICA and RDP have something the PCoIP doesn’t: A long legacy. RDP and ICA were designed more than a decade ago when peoples’ requirements were much different. Even though PCoIP was initially designed for custom hardware, its designers built it from the ground-up for the full desktop experience: multimedia, multiple displays, USB redirection—all this was designed into the protocol from the beginning instead of being hacked in later.
So they’ll be fine, just you watch!
Place your bets
What do you think? Will the software version of PCoIP suck or rock? (By the way, remember the “user experience, low bandwidth, and CPU load: choose any two” ruleset when thinking about remote display protocols.)