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New to Orka: GPU Passthrough, Save VM State, Boost IO Performance, and more

Orka 1.5.0 New Features

Orka 1.5.0 is now available, and it comes with a ton of great new features described below. If you’re ready to upgrade to 1.5.0, visit our Orka Upgrades docs page for more information and to get started.

GPU Passthrough (experimental)

You can now access the onboard graphics processing unit (GPU) for Mac Pro hosts in Orka. The GPU can be attached to a VM to run simulation or rendering steps in your CI/CD workflow. This includes the capability to access the Metal API, often requested by game developers.

When creating a VM config or deploying a VM using an existing config, you can choose to enable GPU passthrough for the VM. All VMs deployed from a config with GPU passthrough enabled will attempt to deploy a VM in the cluster utilizing the host GPU of the selected node. This can be disabled or enabled per VM at the time of deployment.

Some important notes: This is an experimental feature, and some advanced functionality may not be available. GPU passthrough must be enabled in your cluster first in order to use this feature; it is turned off by default. Let us know when you upgrade that you want to include GPU passthrough in your environment. At this time, GPU passthrough is only supported in clusters with the 2013 Mac Pro. The feature is enabled per node if the host contains dual AMD FirePro D500 cards. Read the release notes or contact us for more details.

Save VM State

For VMs deployed with Orka 1.5.0 or later, you can now save the memory state of a running VM. This allows you to re-deploy a VM with any running processes intact. After saving the VM state, the VM will boot using the newly created saved state instead of the base image. In addition, the SSH, VNC, and Screenshare connectivity are already established as part of the saved state, making it immediately available after deploying. When compared to booting from the base image, boot time is substantially decreased. Read more about this feature and how to optimize your VM startup time here.

Boost IO Performance

With Orka 1.5.0, IO intensive operations now run significantly faster. How much faster you ask? Of course, it depends. This improvement is most noticeable on IO-intensive workloads; IO write operations in particular are significantly faster. We’ve improved write IO operations within a range of 40% - 500% depending on the use case (and as each use case is unique, to talk to a sales engineer about your builds on Orka). However, if a build rarely does write operations, probably not much will change. During our tests, build improvement varied from 0% to 7% depending on the build. Read more about how we boosted IO performance in this blog post and get the details in the Orka docs.

VM Metadata Injection

Starting with Orka 1.5.0, you can now inject a key-value pair into the VM during a VM deploy operation. This key-value pair can be used to uniquely identify the VM to any agents running on the VM. When you deploy a VM, Orka assigns default metadata to the VM. Now you can also add your own custom metadata during deployment. With VM metadata, you have more ways to identify and manage running VMs (in addition to the data visible with list and status operations). Every VM stores its metadata on a metadata server, and you can query this server to retrieve the metadata only from within the VM. Check out the docs to learn how to work with Orka VM metadata.

Bring Your Own TLS Certificate

You can use your own TLS certificate with a domain (such as company.com) to access your Orka environment instead of the custom Orka domain (such as company.orka.app) and instead of the default Orka endpoints (10.221.188.100 or 10.10.10.100). Custom TLS certificates provide an additional level of security and compliance since they require access via HTTPS. Learn how to enable and work with custom TLS certificates in the Orka docs.

And that’s not all…

Other enhancements and improvements in Orka 1.5.0 include:

  • Image Resize - Resize an image you have previously committed
  • CLI Arrow Key Navigation - Use arrow-up and arrow-down from the keyboard to navigate through the Orka CLI prompts in interactive mode
  • Signed Orka CLI package distribution - The Orka CLI is now distributed as a signed package on macOS, making it easier to get up and running on your macOS
  • Improved output when listing VM configs
  • Improved output for environment checks with the Orka API
  • TLS-enabled custom Orka domains available by default
  • Web UI improvements

All of this great stuff is described further in the Orka 1.5.0 release notes. We hope that you’re as excited about the new Orka features as we are to tell you about them. Most of the features included in this release have been requested or voted on by Orka users, so if you have a great feature idea let us know through the Orka Ideas Portal. And if you are not a current Orka user, give Orka a try with a free two-hour Orka demo environment.

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