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December 14, 2017

Citrix H.265 Support Amplifies Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) Display Graphics

Citrix H.265

Citrix H.265 Support makes Citrix Virtual Delivery Agent (VDA) Even Better

We have three words for you, “improved graphics experience.” With the announcement of Citrix H.265 support, no three words could be truer. To clarify, just this month… Citrix announced the improvement of its codec capabilities by incorporating Citrix H.265 support into their XenApp and XenDesktop Platinum editions. This news, and the fact that Citrix integrated HDX 3D Pro into their VDA installer, has never made Citrix VDA look better! With so much bandwidth and encoding overhead being demanded these days, Citrix found a way to outdo its H.264 codec support by adding H.265 for XenApp and XenDesktop. When leveraged with NVIDIA GPUs, graphics performance not only improves greatly, bandwidth consumption also reduces by 50%. This new H.265 video codec can both accelerate and enhance the experience of remote graphics and videos in VDI environments.

Citrix H.265 vs. Citrix H.264 Support

By definition, High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC) or H.265, is a video compression standard created to drastically improve coding efficiency. H.264, or Advanced Video Coding (AVC), currently remains the most widely used video codec today, being supported by the majority of client hardware including select Thin & Zero Client devices. But, move over H.264… HEVC (H.265) promises up to “50%” reduction of bandwidth consumption with amazing display quality. How? Its algorithm uses efficient coding by encoding video at the LOWEST possible bit rate, while maintaining the HIGHEST image quality level possible–graphics and video–and with Citrix H.265 support, Citrix users are set up for the best combination of remoting display methods. Now, both codecs compare and replace different parts of redundant video frames with short information describing the original pixels. How HEVC/H.265 differs from H.264 is its ability to expand the size of these areas into smaller or bigger blocks, called coding tree units (CTU) in the HEVC/H.265. This range of capability is much greater in H.265. Also, as mentioned above, HEVC codec/Citrix H.265 support specifically has simplified the HDX 3D Pro experience by integrating the full 3D Pro capabilities into the standard Virtual Delivery Agent (VDA) installer, offering one VDA installer with the ability to enable 3D Pro graphics performance by intelligently selecting the correct mode at runtime.

Citrix H.265 versus Citrix H.264

A Citrix H.265 Heads-Up Before Switching From H.264

Let’s also take a look at some things that may challenge you with H.265 and related Citrix H.265 support. H.265 is currently only supported in Citrix Receiver for Windows (4.10). This means that if you are running other devices with other platforms like Linux, Chrome, Android, etc., you will have to wait for availability for those platforms. Secondly, in order to save up to 50% in bandwidth consumption, the cost will be additional encoding/decoding overhead. As with any codec, it is more efficient for coding to be performed in hardware versus in software. This is even more true with H.265, leveraging those greater compression benefits. However, hardware support for H.265 is less widely supported than its H.264 predecessor. The majority of devices manufactured in the past ten years have been supported by H.264. However for H.265, support was/is generally only available for hardware available 2015 and up. Some good news! Not to worry, if your current VDI solution and related devices do not support Citrix H.265, 10ZiG can assist you. You can contact us here at 10ZiG and we'll introduce you to our Citrix H. 265 supported Client devices.

What You Need For Citrix H.265 Support Performance

Interested in getting up and running with Citrix H.265 video encoding? Here’s a little head start. The most recent version of Citrix Receiver for Windows and the VDA (as you know) support the use of H.265 codec. So, in order to use to use this feature, it must be supported and enabled on both the VDA and Citrix Receiver for Windows. Also, if the GPU on the endpoint does not support H.265 decoding using the DXVA interface, the H.265 decoding for graphics policy settings is ignored and the session falls back to using the H.264 video codec.

Prerequisite Notes:

  • Use VDA 7.16 version (or later)
  • Enable the “optimize” for 3D graphics workload policy on the VDA
  • Enable the “use hardware” encoding for video codec policy on the VDA
  • H.265 encoding is supported only on the NVIDIA GPU

System Requirements:

  • Client Operating System:
    • Windows 7, 8.x, or 10, or Internet Explorer 11
    • Citrix Receiver for Windows 4.10 (or higher)
  • XenApp / XenDesktop 7.16
  • VDA Operating System:
    • Windows 10 (version 1607 or later)
    • Windows Server 2012 R2
    • Windows Server 2016
  • Browser on the VDA:
    • Internet Explorer 11

Citrix Receiver Minimum Versions Requirements:

  • Citrix Receiver for Windows 4.5
  • Citrix Receiver for Linux 13.5


For more information about configuring Citrix H.265 video encoding on 10ZiG Thin Client or Zero Client devices, contact support@10zig.com

For information about configuring Citrix H.265 video encoding, see Configuring Citrix Receiver for Windows to use H.265 video encoding