vSGA stands for “Virtual Shared Graphics Acceleration”. vSGA leverage physical GPUs (Graphics Processing Units) installed locally in each vSphere host to provide hardware accelerated 3D graphics to virtual desktops.
The VMware SVGA 3D graphics driver is currently supported on Windows 7 and 8 virtual desktops for 2D and 3D and is used for both Soft 3D & vSGA. Additionally, this WDDM driver provides support for DirectX v9 and OpenGL 2.1 applications.
One of the benefits of VMware SVGA 3D driver being used for both software 2D/3D and vSGA implementations is the fact that a VM can dynamically switch between software or hardware acceleration without the need to reconfigure the VM.
Because ESX is managing the underlying hardware resources and the software driver, this is also a major factor in why vMotion is supported even when providing hardware-accelerated graphics using vSGA. Having control over the hardware resources and the graphics driver in your image greatly simplifies management and deployment.
vSGA allows multiple VMs to share hardware GPU’s for 3D acceleration rather than a one-to-one relationship like vDGA (see below). vSphere reserves GPU hardware resources on a first-come, first-served basis as virtual machines are powered on. If all GPU hardware resources are already reserved additional virtual machines will be unable to power on if they are explicitly set to use “Hardware” 3D rendering. If the virtual machines are set to “Automatic” the virtual machines will be powered on using software 3D rendering.
My VMware colleague Rory Clements from EUC Technical Marketing recorded this video demonstrating the 3D graphics performance vSGA technology in a virtualized desktop environment.
This article was first published by Andre Leibovici (@andreleibovici) at myvirtualcloud.net.