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Oracle begins Phase IV of per processor pricing offensive

x86 discount and a huge headache

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Pull out your calculators, friends. Oracle has released another new pricing model.

In its ongoing effort to come to grips with multicore chips, Oracle has developed Phase IV of its per processor licensing schemes. Phase I revolved around pretending multicore chips didn't exist. Phase II centered on cutting a break to some dual-core RISC chip customers, and Phase III had Oracle force customers to multiply all the cores in their RISC and x86 chips by a factor of .75 to find the actual price they needed to pay for Larry's software.

That final plan lasted all of about six months. Oracle now seems to realize there is a disparity between RISC and x86 chips, and it has had to find a way of dealing with Sun Microsystems' new 8-core UltraSPARC T1. This is what it came up with to solve the problems.

Sun's UltraSPARC T1 chip will be multiplied by a factor of .25. So the eight-core version of the chip is priced like a two-way server.

The dual-core x86 chips from Intel and AMD will be multiplied by a factor of .50, and "all other" multi-core servers - mostly the Unix crowd - will follow the .75 rule.

Itanium is just about the only single-core server chip still out there, and it gets to keep the regular, old per processor pricing until it goes dual-core next year.

Here's where the fun begins. If you have a four-socket IBM Power5 server, then you've got 8 processor cores and must multiply by .75 to end up paying for 6 processor licenses. A four-socket Opteron box with 8-cores comes out to 4 processor licenses.

Thank God you can still pick from per user and per employee models instead of dealing with this.

Oracle is clearly looking to hold onto revenue from its lucrative Unix database business, while promoting growth in the Linux x86 market with this new pricing scheme. Frankly, we find the whole thing a bit embarrassing and would expect Oracle to suck it up and standardize the policies for the good of its customers. ®

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