VMware Horizon 7.2: New kid “Blast (Extreme) is the rising star

VMware Horizon 7.2: New kid “Blast extreme” is the rising star

VMware just released Horizon 7.2.  I could show you a summation of the new features. I’m sure that there are several other blogs out there doing just that, so I decided against it. I thought I focus on something different here, something as important and with less attention. I’d like to focus on the protocol war, VMware Horizon offers three protocols to work with. You can’t maintain multiple protocols, development resources are not unlimited. I wrote and said before that one day VMware will have to make a choice, PCoIP or Blast extreme. Blast Extreme as a protocol is part of BEAT (Blast Extreme Advanced Transport), UDP transport for better performance, UDP like PCoIP uses. Blast Extreme is the protocol we already know, now it is improved further and part of BEAT.

New kid on the block

Of course Blast Extreme is not really a new kid on the block anymore but if we look at the protocol adoption I think it’s fairly new for most customers. PCoIP has been the protocol to use. The previous protocols leading up to blast Extreme didn’t match up with PCoIP in features.

For you who don’t know, PCoIP is originally a TeraDici protocol and VMware licensed the use of it back in 2008 and used it as it’s primary protocol ever since. More vendors licensed the protocol like VMware did, Amazon is using it also for their workspaces. Today also TeraDici is offering a cloud access offering using PCoIP.

PCoIP is available as software or hardware, many zero clients were sold with aTeraDici hardware chip to deliver high performance PCoIP sessions. It’s UDP protocol meaning it will use the bandwidth the deliver the experience if the bandwidth is there. It’s sending a lot of data to make sure your session is near perfect. TCP on the other hand would resend and resend and your session would look choppy.

Performance improvements

According to VMware, will need to do some testing somehow, Beat/Blast Extreme is far better in any situation that PCoIP ever was. Screenshots below are VMware’s, so credit go to them.


If we look at the VMware information we notice that in a LAN environment PCoIP and BEAT / Blast Extreme are damn close.  There is nearly no difference in performance on frames per second. There is however a difference in the implementation of both protocols. where BEAT is new and actively developed, PCoIP is not. PCoIP is not being worked on as much as they used to be, focus has shifted to BEAT / Blast Extreme.


WAN 10Mbps – 200ms

If we look at a WAN scenario the real power of BEAT / Blast Extreme is shown. PCoIP suddenly lost all frames per second where BEAT is still giving a good 20+ fames per second.


WAN 1.5Mbps – 200ms

If we tune down our WAN connection we see that PCoIP loses all it’s performance and BEAT still soars on. Again this is VMware documentation so I’d like to see some testing done by others. Testing done by myself at customers in specific cases showed that Blast Extreme is a very nice protocol to work with.


Single monitor – 1080p

If we look at performance data when using a single monitor with 1080p we see that over the time they developed Blast extreme to a better performing protocol. With Blast it says OOB which I don’t see with PCoIP. from the announcement we should derive that Blast Extreme with H.264 is giving 50% better performance. This might have to do with a GPU being used or something like that but that data is not available.


Dual monitor – 1080p

The same results we saw with the single monitor are seen with a multiple monitor setup. Blast with H.264 is using almost 50% less bandwidth than PCoIP is.


..and now we pick our protocol

Feature wise  Blast is on par with PCoIP, there is no reason feature wise to not switch from PCoIP to Blast Extreme with Beat. VMware worked hard to get to this point and now we are left at a crosspoint. Do we stick with PcoIP or do we go with Blast Extreme?

For customers upgrading a five year old environment the choice may be simple, end points are old and will be replaced and if Blast is on par why not move there. for new customers the choice is simple select one of the many clients supporting Blast Extreme with BEAT or by a “NUC” style Windows client. The issue will be the customer with a vast base of zero clients only capable of PCoIP. If those clients are not up to replacement any time soon what are you gonna do?

Is there a need to move to Blast Extreme or will PCoIP do fine that’s the question. If you don’t experience performance issue right now there is no reason but you might get some. Your Zero client will update to newer PcoIP client firmware but your VMware stack won’t. So in due time there will be a gap. One way to prevent this is perhaps stay on older firmware closer to the VMware version but that’s a choice to make.

I find this discussion hard as I can’t predict what VMware will do with PCoIP, looking at the announcements I would put my money on Blast.

3 Responses

  1. Matt Evans says:

    Interesting article Rob. Can you confirm which version of the Horizon Agent and Client you used for your testing? I am assuming 7.2 Agent and 4.5 Client but wanted to check with you, thanks

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