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Intel wants its GPUs to take a bigger slice of the VDI market by eliminating licensing fees

The GPU Flex series is Intel’s answer to one of the biggest pain points in the entire virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) market – allowing customers able to tap into this GPU available without incurring any license fees.

Businesses are increasingly turning to VDI systems to give workers a cost-effective way to access critical apps and services from anywhere. On that front, there are plenty of great remote desktop and virtualization software solutions to choose from.

But because many modern workloads are also becoming increasingly resource-intensive, they’re turning to GPU-powered virtual desktop systems to support their remote workers. The problem? It costs to license the best GPUs that power them – but that’s where Intel’s Flex GPU family comes in.

Stripping GPU-powered VDI of license fees

Tailored for VMware ESXi environments, and complemented with the VMware Horizon connection manager, these GPUs are available for use with no hidden virtualization licensing fees. 

Businesses can tap into two configurations of Intel’s license fee-free Flex GPUs. The Intel Data Center GPU Flex 140 is a 75W single-width PCIe Gen 4 add-in with 12GB GDDR and 8 TFLOPS of peak computing power. The Intel Data Center GPU Flex 170, meanwhile, is a 150W iteration with 16GB of memory and can hit 16 TFLOPS.

The Flex 140 can support up to 12 VDI sessions per GPU, while the Flex 170 can support 16, according to Intel’s testing

Both include ray tracing, as well as a built-in AV1 encoder, which Storage Review says is the first GPU with this feature. This significantly boosts impression efficiency in AVC and HEVC formats to the tune of a 30% bandwidth improvement. 

VMware previously announced it would support Flex GPUs in its VMware Horizon VDI service, with Intel announcing availability at its Intel Innovation 2023 event last month. 

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