Using USB Zero-Clients

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Copyright © 2016 Userful Corporation. All rights reserved.
(Updated 2016.03.03)


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Introduction

Userful's Video Wall solution enables customers to group multiple displays to form a single large display using a single host PC/server. The Userful Network Video Wall™ is designed to utilize both the CPU and GPU to maximize performance.

This document provides guidelines and instructions for configuring a video wall with USB zero-client devices.

Compatible USB Zero-Client Devices

Userful Network Video Wall™ is designed to support USB zero-client devices with the SMSC® chipset.

Userful has tested and confirmed that the following devices are supported for use with Userful Network Video Wall™.

Recommended Devices Chipset External Power Supply Required
ThinNetworks MiniPoint
* Using USB connection only
SMSC UFX-6000 YES



Might Work
Here are the USB zero-client devices that might work with Userful Network Video Wall™. These have been seen to work with certain configurations but testing has been limited.

Devices Chipset External Power Supply Required
ATrust m300
* Using USB connection only
SMSC UFX-6000 NO
ATrust m302
* Using USB connection only
SMSC UFX-6000 YES


Please Note: DisplayLink zero-client devices are not supported with Userful Network Video Wall™.


How Many Stations Can Be Supported?

You can run 5 (4+1 onboard) USB stations with one host PC/server but the user experience depends on several factors:

  1. The speed and power of the CPU and GPU
  2. The available system memory (RAM)
  3. The demands made upon the system by the applications
  4. The speed and capacity of network connections and hardware

With video wall solution, these factors influence the maximum usage capacity of a given system configuration. For details about the recommended system configuration, visit System Hardware Guide.


By enabling USB EHCI Port Debug option in BIOS on a HP Haswell system, it can support 9 (8+1) stations with good performance; thus the practical limit increases to 8 additional stations + 1 onboard system (8 + 1).

To enable USB EHCI Port Debug option under BIOS:

  • Switch on the system and press F10 to enter BIOS
  • In the BIOS configuration screen, navigate using the arrow keys. Press ‘Enter’ to select options and ‘Esc’ to exit.
  • Go to Advanced tab and select Device option
  • Enable USB EHCI Port Debug
  • Press F10 to save
  • Choose Save and Exit to close the BIOS. The host PC/server will restart.

Please Note: The above-mentioned procedure applies only to HP Haswell (Intel® 4th Generation) system.


General USB Guidelines

Station setup should be done after the installation of the Userful Network Video Wall™ is complete.

Some things to remember:

  • USB zero-client devices works only with USB 2.0 ports.
  • It is necessary to configure the host PC/server so that USB ports are not disabled when the host PC/server enters sleep mode.
  • We do not recommend daisy chaining USB hubs or USB zero-client devices. But if you absolutely must, be sure to use powered USB hubs when daisy chaining USB stations.
  • Cable quality is very important. Only use high-quality USB 2.0 compliant cables. (Note: 'compliant' is different than 'compatible'. Good quality cables often say "High-Speed Certified"). We recommend cable specifications of at least 24 AWG (power) and 28 AWG (signal). Low quality USB cables can cause excessive voltage drops that can create system instability issues or can cause a USB zero-client device to be disabled by the Linux Kernel.


Getting Started

Userful Network Video Wall™ supports USB zero-client devices for video wall configurations. Some things to remember:

  • Even when using USB-connected stations, it is important to keep one station connected to the onboard video card in order to see start-up messages.
  • We recommend the use of homogeneous (all one type and model) USB zero-client devices


Setting Up Stations

  1. Position one monitor for each station required. Remember to keep one display plugged into the on-board video.
    • If using USB hubs and USB zero-client devices:
      1. Connect the zero-client devices to the USB ports on the host PC/server.
      2. Connect the USB hubs to the USB ports on the host PC/server.
      3. Connect keyboard and mice to the USB hubs, one set per hub.
  2. Connect an Ethernet cable to the back of the host PC/server.
  3. Ensure all devices, and monitors are connected to a UPS or surge protected outlets, if necessary.
  4. Turn on the system when ready.


Adding or Removing USB Stations

To add a station, simply plug in a USB zero-client device. No reboot is necessary, the station will be ready to use after a brief pause (assuming your license supports that number of stations).

Stations can be removed simply by unplugging the USB zero-client device (This can be done with the system running).