RealTime IT News

Oracle Easing Multi-Core License Terms

UPDATED: Oracle introduced a new licensing scheme designed to lure users to its latest software running on multi-core processor machines.

The move, a price/performance decrease of 25 percent from Oracle's previous licensing model, could curb the harsh criticism the company weathered from customers who protested paying for each socket or core in a multi-core chip.

But it may not be enough.

Jacqueline Woods, vice president of Oracle pricing and licensing, said on a conference call the company will price its database and application server software by designating each socket on a multi-core processor as three-quarters of a chip.

A multi-core chip with "n" cores shall be determined by multiplying "n" cores by .75, with all fractions of a number to be rounded up to the next whole number. For example, a multi-core chip with 9 cores would require a 7 processor license because 9 multiplied by .75 equals 6.75, which is then rounded up to the next whole number, 7.

Previously, Oracle had counted each socket as a separate processor, sparking outcries from customers who felt they were being overcharged. Dual-core chips, for example, do not provide twice the performance of single-core processors, though the performance of multi-core chips is definitely greater.

Woods attributed the move directly to the latest developments from Intel and AMD. Intel and AMD unveiled dual-core chips, and vendors like IBM, HP, Dell have brought servers to market that employ them.

Oracle's move could help assuage some angry customers who felt the company wasn't doing right by them, but skeptics on the call asked Woods if Oracle's new scheme is enough to silence critics.

Oracle rivals like Microsoft license software for multi-core processors by counting each chip as one, while IBM is half in and half out at this point. The company treats multi-core chips from Intel and AMD as one processor, but it still treats each core in its multi-core Power line as a separate processor.

Asked what Oracle's justification was for not taking a similar route, Woods said that a dual-core processor typically performs 1.5 to 1.7 times a single-core chip. Oracle opted for the .75 pricing factor to accurately reflect the value of performance value the customer would receive, she said.

She also said Oracle was not concerned that its pricing scheme will send customers flocking to Microsoft or IBM.

Woods said Oracle is making an exception to its new .75 rule. For those customers licensing Oracle Standard Edition One or Standard Edition software on servers with a total of 1 processor with 1 or 2 cores, only 1 processor shall be counted despite a factor of 1.5. Counting this entry-level deployment as 2 processors would not yield a price decrease, Woods said.

Oracle said on its Web site the total number of processors needed is calculated by adding the number of processors in each computer where the programs are installed or running.

For example, customers licensing the Oracle Database Enterprise Edition for 1 computer which has 2 processors must have 2 processors for each program they plan to license for the machine. Customers running Oracle Database Enterprise Edition for 4 computers, each with 1 processor and 1 computer with 8 processors would need 12 processors, Oracle said.

Multi-core chips are the latest rage in the computing industry because they offer more performance without consuming the power associated with two distinct processors.

The promise and popularity of just dual-core options already has chipmakers Intel and AMD playing a game of leap-frog as server vendors choose their sides. Dell just announced its dual-core plans with long-time partner Intel.

IBM recently announced its dual-core chip for its Power line at a launch event in Tokyo.