Windows Server 2012 R2 was designed to perform as well or better for the same hardware base as Windows Server 2012. In addition, R2 is the first Windows Server operating system to move solely to a 64-bit architecture.
Windows Server 2012 R2 also has several CPU-specific enhancements. First, this version expands CPU support to enable you to run with up to 256 logical processors. R2 also supports Second Level Translation (SLAT), which enables R2 to take advantage of the Enhanced Page Tables feature found in the latest AMD CPUs as well as the similar Nested Page Tables feature found in Intel’s latest processors. The combination enables R2 servers to run with much improved memory management.
Components of Windows Server 2012 R2 have received hardware boosts as well. Hyper-V in Windows Server 2012 R2 can now access up to 64 logical CPUs on host computers—twice Hyper-V’s initial number of supported CPUs. This capability not only takes advantage of new multicore systems, it also means greater virtual machine consolidation ratios per physical host.
Services and Active Directory Federated Services
Windows Server 2012 R2 also improves on the popular PowerShell feature introduced in Windows Server 2012. PowerShell 2.0 significantly enhances the earlier version with the inclusion of more than 240 new pre-built cmdlets as well as a new graphical user interface (GUI) that adds professional-level development features for creating new cmdlets. The new GUI includes colored syntaxing, new production script debugging capabilities, and new testing tools.
Improved Data and Storage Management
Managing storage isn’t just about managing disks. Storage volume has been increasing at a 51% compounded annual growth rate between 2008 and 2012 according to IDC. To keep pace and stay competitive, organizations must begin managing data, not just disks. Windows Server 2008 R2 gives you the tools for precisely this kind of initiative with the new File Classification Infrastructure (FCI). This new feature builds an extensible and automated classification mechanism on top of existing shared file architectures enabling you to direct specific actions for specific files based on entirely customizable classification.
Remote Access with System Network and Design Windows Servers
Windows Server 2008 R2 introduces a new type of remote connectivity called DirectAccess—a powerful way for remote users to seamlessly access corporate resources without requiring a traditional VPN connection and client software. Using technologies that shipped in Windows Server 2008, Microsoft has added simple management wizards that enable you to configure SSTP and IPv6 across both R2 and Windows 7 clients to enable the basic DirectAccess connection, and then augment that connection with additional R2 management and security tools, including management policies and NAP.
With DirectAccess, every user is considered remote all of the time. Users are no longer required to distinguish between local and remote connections. DirectAccess handles all of these distinctions in the background. You retain precise access control and full perimeter security, helping to ease both desktop security and management headaches on both sides of the connection.
Improved Branch Office Performance
Many branch office IT architectures have relatively low bandwidth. Slow WAN links impact the productivity of branch office employees waiting to access content from the main office, and costs for branch office bandwidth allocation can amount to as much as 33 % of overall corporate IT spending. To address this challenge, Windows Server 2012 R2 introduces a feature called BranchCache, which reduces WAN utilization and improves the responsiveness of network applications. With BranchCache, clients who request access to data on the organization’s network are sent directions to the file on the local (branch office) network if the file has ever been requested there before. If the file is stored locally, those clients get immediate high-speed access. Such files can be stored either on a local BranchCache server for larger branch offices or simply on local Windows 8.1 PCs.
Expanded Desktop Deployment Options with VDI
Windows Server 2012 R2 Remote Desktop Services extends the functionality of Session Virtualization from delivering session-based desktops and applications to also enabling the delivery of virtual desktops in a virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI). With Remote Desktop Services, both virtual and session-based desktops and applications are now available on the Windows 7 Start menu right alongside programs that are installed locally.
VDI with Windows Server 2012 R2 with SP1 benefits from a rich end user experience with support for rich media and USB devices with Microsoft RemoteFX as well as a great better together story with Windows 8.1 as the guest OS due to increased VM density with Dynamic Memory and near-invisible integration of virtualized desktops in Windows 7.