Free virtual workstation trials support home workers

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To help support 3D CAD users working from home over the coming weeks and months, several workstation and cloud providers are offering free licenses and trials of services and software.

All of the technologies are slightly different but work on the same principle that a host workstation (in the office, datacentre or cloud) does the heavy-duty processing while pixels are streamed to the home worker’s PC, laptop or entry-level workstation.

This isn’t just about giving workers access to powerful workstations from home, but about overcoming the challenges of software licensing and enabling firms to retain much better control over their project data, storing everything in the datacentre / office server / cloud, rather than having to share huge files and keep on top of revisions.

Lenovo is offering a free 120-day license of Mechdyne’s TGX Remote Workstation software that compresses and sends information from a host workstation to a receiver where it is decoded.

You don’t have to have a Lenovo ThinkStation workstation to use the software, but Lenovo would obviously prefer that. According to Lenovo, the software works best when the host workstation has an Nvidia Quadro GPU.

The receiver is able to use the CPU for decoding, but Lenovo says performance, latency and bandwidth is much lower when using the GPU. The software even gives an option to invite colleagues and contributors into a collaborative experience.

For setup, simply install the software trial on your host workstation and the receiver software (Windows, Linux or Mac) on your local device.

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HP is extending its ZCentral Remote Boost software free trial to three months for anyone who needs it, on any workstation (it’s always included with HP Z workstations).

HP Z Central can be accessed from a number of devices, including standard laptops and thin clients. Windows, MacOS and Linux is supported but iOS and Android is not.

Customers can access the ZCentral Remote Boost here, and the proprietary ZCentral Connect software here. You can learn more about the technology in this article from 2019.

Nvidia is expanding its free virtual GPU (vGPU) software evaluation from 128 to 500 licenses for 90 days. With vGPU software licenses, companies can use their on-premise Nvidia GPUs to provide accelerated virtual infrastructure.

NVIDIA offers three tiers of vGPU software and all three are available through the expanded free licensing.

This includes Nvidia GRID for VDI, Nvidia Quadro Virtual Data Center Workstation to deliver a “full Quadro experience from the data centre or cloud” and Nvidia  Virtual Compute Server software for server virtualization with GPUs.

Nutanix is offering a free 30-day trial of Xi Frame that allows any Windows CAD tool to run in a browser.

Meanwhile your firm might actually have remote graphics capabilities for CAD without knowing it.

When using Microsoft Remote Desktop Connection it automatically uses the GPU in your host workstation. You can read more about the technology in our review of the AMD Radeon Pro W5500

Finally, Teradici is offering a guide to remote working and how to get started with its PCoIP technology.

Microsoft has launched its new AMD-powered NVv4 workstation instances on Azure that are optimised for 3D CAD and Workspot is hosting a webinar on April 1 about its cloud workstations powered by AMD.


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