Oracle, developer of one of the most popular industry database standards, is continuing to roll out their new licensing scheme for modern machines that are more and more becoming equipped with multi-core CPUs. We have 4 and 8 core CPUs already available at the extreme enterprise high-end, with even more promised. With many licenses based upon “physical” processors, how companies charge for their software on these new rigs can get a bit tricky. Oracle's plan is to give separate licenses for x86 and RISC chips, and give different “multipliers” based on what you choose. A dual-core Intel or AMD processor will have all the cores in the machine added up and multiplied by .75 and .50, respectively, whereas an UltraSPARC T1, which can have four times the number of cores that a Xeon or Opteron could, will be multiplied by .50.
As both servers and desktops begin to embrace dual-core platforms, including in configurations with more than one physical processor, licensing can become tricky when a lot of companies sell different licenses to products based on the number of “processors” the product sees. With companies like Microsoft committing to pricing their software based the amount of physical CPUs, many IT managers hope it stays that way, for future upgrade purposes and for current day costs. Oracle has taken some heat for introducing this model, but perhaps in the future they will change their tune.