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SoftXpand 2011 Setup Guide

About this guide:

SoftXpand 2011 lets you expand your computer for a number of simultaneous users, and help you save on IT costs. This guide should help you make the best out of SoftXpand.
This guide is intended to be a live document that will be constantly updated.
 

Contents of this guide:

  1. Sizing hardware properties: How to scale the CPU + RAM for SoftXpand system.
  2. Setting up workstations: Connecting additional monitors and peripheral devices to the computer.
  3. Before installing SoftXpand: Software preparations before installing SoftXpand.
  4. Configuring SoftXpand: How to assign devices per each workstation, how to configure audio devices.

 

Before you start:

The first step in rolling out SoftXpand is determining your expected usage pattern – this will imply on the system scaling and required hardware resources (CPU, RAM, graphics-cards, etc):
  1. How many simultaneous users will be sharing each SoftXpand computer?
  2. What are the typical applications being used:
    1.  Basic word processing / office work.
    2.  Video playback.
    3.  Graphic design.
    4.  Video editing.
    5.  3D-CAD.
    6.  3D gaming.

 

System scaling
While it is almost impossible to predict the performance of a Multi-Seat system, there are a number of recommendations for choosing the right hardware spec, see the drawing below. Please note that AMD processors are also supported by SoftXpand.
 
 
Example: suggested system for 10 users:

* Motherboard: ASRock Z-78 Extreme7-Gen3, or Z-77 Extreme9, both motherboards have 5 x PCIe slots and 4 x memory slots, plus integrated graphics with 2 heads (2 active ports).

* CPU: for 8 or 10 users, I7 CPU is a must-have.
* RAM:  for 10 users, 4 x 4GB (16GB) is a safe choice. For high-end graphic/3D CAD applications and gaming, 4 x 8GB (32GB) is suggested.
* SSD: highly recommended for improving system performance. 128GB is more than enough for OS and most applications. The SATA-3 models from Corsair, Crucial and OCZ, seem to offer very nice performance levels at a reasonable cost.
* Graphics-cards: the suggested motherboard, coupled with I5/I7 processors, provides for 2 VGA ports. Add to this 4 x GeForce 210 Dual-Head cards, with 1GB RAM, which is a low-cost card that supports most applications (gamers should look at more high-end cards).
* OS: Win-7 64-bit is a must have, can be any of: Home Premium, Professional, Enterprise and Ultimate editions. Note that Home-Premium is limited  to 16GB of RAM, which might become a bottleneck in some applications.
Asrock Z77 Extreme9 motherboard
Asrock Z77 Extreme9 can be used for a 10 user SoftXpand system.
Setting up workstations
Setting up workstations includes:
  •   Connecting monitors to dedicated video-cards, or Zero-Clients.
  •   Connecting keyboards, mice and other USB peripherals – requires a USB hub per each workstation.

 

Step 1: Connecting Monitors
There are a number of ways to connect several monitors to a computer:
Option 1: Multiple video-cards:
  •   This option has the benefits of lowest cost per user, and highest graphic performance.
  •   Highly recommended for new computer builds where the entire hardware can be specified in advance.
  •   Highly recommended for graphic design, video-editing, 3D CAD and 3D Gaming.

 

Notes about choosing Video cards for SoftXpand 2011:

  1. Windows Aero theme can only be applied using Dual-Head cards.
  2. Cards have to be PCI-Express type (not PCI or AGP).
  3. Cards are required to have updated drivers for Windows 7.
  4. Number of Heads refers to the number of video ports active simultaneously.
  5. Recommended Dual-Head video cards: Nvidia 210, 1GB RAM, typical cost 35 USD (cost per user = 17 USD).
  6. On-board video cards are supported by SoftXpand.
  7. We received reports about system crashes when using Nvidia 8400GS cards, therefore we recommend that you avoid them.
  8. Flat-screen TVs with HDMI interface are supported by SoftXpand.
  9. When using cards with Display-Port (e.g. AMD Radeon 6970), please refrain from using DP—VGA adaptors.
  10. SoftXpand does not support NVidia SLI or ATI CrossFireX.
  11. SoftXpand does not support passive splitters, such as VGA splitters.

 

EVGA GT-210 Video card

EVGA GT-210 Video-Card - Dual Head, available for 35 USD.

Option 2: USB VGA extenders

This option has the benefits of expanding existing computers, without any hardware changes.

 

Notes about using USB Extenders for SoftXpand 2011:

  1. SoftXpand 2011 does not support Display Link devices, only SMSC.
  2. Please refer to SMSC setup guide prior to installation.
  3. The following products were tested with SoftXpand 2011:
    • HP T200 Zero Client.
    • Spina Systems Multas-1000.
    • Icreon SPC-860.

 HP T200 Zero Client

HP T200 Zero Client has both USB interface..

 

Option 3: LAN extenders (also known as: Zero Clients)

Please contact This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

 
Step 2: Peripheral Devices
SoftXpand supports most common USB peripherals, in the following categories:
  • Individual (per-user) – keyboard, mouse, Flash-drive, webcam, USB audio adaptor, touch interface of multi-touch screens.
  • Shared (for all users) – speakers, printer/scanner, DVD-R/W, external storage.

 

Use USB hubs:
SoftXpand 2011 features auto assignment of devices to workstations. This feature requires that devices will be connected to a USB hub in each workstation.

Notes:

  1. It is highly recommended to use active (powered) hubs.
  2. When using USB extenders or LAN Zero-Clients, it’s not necessary to add USB hubs.

 usb_hub_4_ports

Note: only 4 ports USB are supported for automatic mapping of USB hubs (read more) 

 
Non-supported USB devices:
SoftXpand does not support devices with dedicated drivers, such as Wacom tablets, Logitech GamePanel, sensor devices etc.
These devices cannot be assigned to specific workstations, and will be typically accessible by all workstations.
Audio devices:

Most computers have only one or two accessible audio channels (Rear and Center Audio Channels cannot be used).

Therefore it is highly recommended to deploy USB Audio-Adapters for all workstations, and connect them via the USB hubs.

USB Audio Adapter

USB Audio Adapter, typically available for 15-25 USD.

 

Before installing SoftXpand

Before installing SoftXpand, the following steps should be taken:

1.    Run Windows Update: make sure to include SP1 and .NET in these updates.

2.    Install the latest drivers for graphic cards (note: do not install AMD/ATI bundled software, including Video-Transcoder, as it may crash).

3.    Set all connected screens as “Extended Desktop” (under Screen Resolution).

4.    Disable any anti-virus, Firewall or Smart-Security programs.

5.    Install and activate SoftXpand.

6.    After reboot, re-enable the anti-virus and any security programs.

 

Avast Anti-Virus disabled

AntiVirus programs, such as Avast, should be disabled before installing SoftXpand

 

Configuring SoftXpand

After installation and activation of SoftXpand, each Workstation shows its ID (1,2,3 etc) in the following pop-up window:

Workstation ID in SoftXpand 2011

 

Step 1: Assigning devices to workstations

The easiest way to assign devices is by using the keyboard shortcut, as shown in the Workstation-ID window:

{left – CTRL} + {right – CTRL}, {Workstation number}, {Left-mouse-click} + {Right-mouse-click}

 

You can also use the Drag & Drop function of the Configuration Manager:

 

 Step 2: Configuring Audio Devices

 
When using USB Audio Adapters and USB hubs, all devices are automatically assigned to workstations.

In the case of multiple audio devices, use SoftXpand Configuration Manager to detect each device:

SoftXpand Audio utility

Configuring Audio Devices in SoftXpand 2011

 

Applies To
SoftXpand 2011

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