Windows Remote VMs

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The compute cluster contains contains several Windows VMs, which SSI members can use to run resource-intensive software, without relying on their personal computers. This also allows members with Apple computers to run Windows software without having to Dual-Boot. This approach also enables computationally intense jobs to be run for extended periods, as the cluster maintains nearly 100% uptime.


Sasha is a Dell 2U rackmount server, with a 16 core Ryzen EPYC CPU, and 16 RAM slots for DDR4. It's quite powerful, and is configured to run multiple VMs (effectively independent operating systems within a single computer). The system is oversubscribed, meaning that each of the N systems can utilize far more than 1/N of the available resources. For non-interactive workloads (like Ansys) this means a remote VM will be significantly faster than a personal laptop.

For interactive workloads (CAD, Altium, etc.) the limiting factor for usability will be the users network connection to the cluster. Ever keyboard/mouse/screen interaction experience the latency added by your internet connection and Stanford's internet connection. For users on campus, this effect will likely be hard to notice, but for users around the world, there may be significant lag. You can test this latency by running the following command:

timv@timv-5510:~$ ping
PING ( 56(84) bytes of data.
64 bytes from ( icmp_seq=1 ttl=48 time=29.7 ms
64 bytes from ( icmp_seq=2 ttl=48 time=29.7 ms

From LA, I get 29.7ms round trip ping time to the cluster. This is quite respectable. Less than 100ms is quite good, and 15ms is about the limit of human perception.

Connecting to a VM

If you'd like to connect from off-campus, you need to use the Stanford VPN. Stanford uses a Cisco AnyConnect VPN, which is available for Mac, Windows, and Linux clients. You can opt to use the "split-tunnel" VPN, which will only redirect Stanford traffic through the tunnel.

You also need a Remote Desktop client. On Windows, this is pre-installed. Just look for "Remote Desktop Connection." On Mac, you need to install Microsoft Remote Desktop from the Mac App Store. On Linux, there are several RDP clients available.

Join the #windows Slack channel for more info on how to get connected. When you use an instance, post a message in the channel when you start and finish so that others don't try to use the same machine simultaneously.

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