Oracle raises software prices on IBM's Power6 iron
Anything IBM can do...
Oracle has quietly jacked up software prices on IBM's Power6 iron by 33 per cent, after removing a multicore scaling factor that was in effect to reduce prices.
The change was spotted by an intrepid reader at El Reg, and can be confirmed with a visit to Oracle's website.
After coming under pressure in late 2004, for pricing its database software as if a single core were the same thing as a single-socket processor, (in the days before multicore processors became mainstream, and in anticipation of the day when they would be,) Oracle launched a new pricing scheme.
It allowed customers using multicore chips to multiply the processor chip count by a factor of 0.75 and use that number, rather than the number of cores, to calculate per-processor software license fees. Before multicore chips, a socket was a processor, so it was easy. Five months later, after much complaining on the part of server and chip makers that not all processor cores are created equally in terms of performance, Oracle introduced a different set of scaling factors for a wider range of processors. To be fair to Sun Microsystems, Oracle gave the "Niagara" family of multicore chips a 0.25 scaling factor, dual-core x64 processors were given a 0.50 scaling factor, and RISC and Itanium chips received a 0.75 scaling factor.
Over the past four years, of course, chip makers have introduced more powerful processors, some with more cores, some with simultaneous multithreading, others with faster clock speeds, and some with a mix of these to boost performance. The latest Oracle processor core scaling factor table, which you can see here, now rates a Power6 processor at a scaling factor of 1.0 per core, which means no more 25 per cent discount on Power6 processor cores when it comes to Oracle products (most importantly, on database software).
The Power6 processor, launched initially in the summer of 2007 and rolled out in the Power Systems server line last April, is a dual-core chip, just like its predecessors the Power5 and the Power5+ kicker. But the Power6 chip has roughly twice the performance of those initial Power5 chips in online transaction processing workloads. So you can understand Oracle's temptation to remove the discount core scaling factor from the machines and put them in the same price band as IBM's System z mainframes.
There is some speculation that the change has to do with the multiple shared processor pool feature of the Power6 machines, which allows a group of logical partitions on a single Power Systems machine to be capped with a certain number of processors with the idea that you try to drive up utilization on the cores in the pool. If customers are cutting back on cores allocated to Oracle databases and getting the same performance, that is a kind of price cut, too. There is also some confusion about pricing in virtual or logical partitions versus virtual private servers, such as Sun's Solaris containers. The confusion is cleared up in this Oracle document, which clearly states that "soft partitioning is not permitted as a means to determine or limit the number of software licenses required for any given server."
The Oracle price hike on Power6 chips seems unfair given that the quad-core Sparc64 VII processors used in Sun and Fujitsu machines have the same 0.75 scaling factor, but you can bet Sun and Fujitsu are happy about this because it makes Oracle software cheaper on their big iron. Ditto for quad-core x64 chips from Intel and Advanced Micro Devices and dual-core Itanium 9100 series chips from Intel, which currently have a 0.50 scaling factor. (That is effectively the same thing as saying a Power6 core is worth two x64 or Itanium cores.)
It will be interesting to see what Oracle does when Sun and Fujitsu roll out the Sparc64 VII+ quad-core chips, which they are expected to do soon, and when Intel gets its quad-core "Tukwila" Itaniums out the door in June or July. The Tukwila chips should certainly get their scaling factor removed, but given that HP and Intel do not have a database software business, I would venture that Tukwilas might sneak by with a 0.75 scaling factor.
To be fair, Oracle should run a database benchmark test on each processor and come up with a literal scaling factor based on possible clock speeds of all processors and make the scale all relative to the performance of one machine that it picks as the gold standard. But software companies want something that still looks and smells like per-socket pricing and is easy for their salespeople to peddle.
In Oracle's defense, IBM's analog to their processor scaling factor methodology, which it calls value unit pricing and introduced in the summer of 2006 after watching the Oracle experiment, is a similarly loose scaling metric for processor-based pricing. It charges more for Power6 processors for IBM's own DB2 and other systems software than it does for Power5 systems, as you can see here. Power6 and System z10 mainframes have a rating of 120 per core, compared to 100 for Power5 cores and 80 for Power6 chips used in the JS12 and JS22 blade servers sold by IBM. (That 80 rating is due to the limited memory and I/O bandwidth on the blades, as far as I can tell.) IBM rates the initial Sun Niagara chips at 30 VUPs per core, and the second generation at 50 VUPs per core, the same as dual-core, quad-core, and hex-core x64 chips. Itanium, various other Sparc, and other chips have a 100 VUP rating. It is probably a fair guess that Intel's Tukwila chips will get a 150 to 200 VUP rating when they come out, and it is hard to imagine a 16-core "Rock" UltraSparc-RK chip not being in the same range when it comes out sometime in the fall.
If IBM doesn't buy Sun and spikes the Rocks, that is. ®
@anon: Come on keep up
Anonymous says, "Try the standard edition if you don't need everything in the Oracle stack, it costs a lot less, and your limitation is the number of CPU's in a server or cluster, not the number of Oracle systems you have, you can have as many clustered pairs as you like as long as no single cluster or server breaks the CPU limits."
The licensing on this is very restrictive.
"When licensing Oracle programs with Standard Edition One or Standard Edition in the product name, a processor is counted equivalent to a socket; however, in the case of multi-chip modules, each chip in the multi-chip module is counted as one occupied socket."
Most Intel and POWER processors are MCM's... making each core a socket under their licensing terms.
RE: Oracle Pricing Unfair for which vendor!?!?
The last sentence of my post was missing a very key word:
I highly suspect that a 16 core RK chip will NOT be 16x faster than a SPARC64 V, VI, or VII core. This being the case, IBM cranking up the VUP rating would be completely "off the chain".
Tukwila is not ship until November
HP systems will not ship with Tukwila chips until November. That is from HP directly as they try to pretend Itanium is socket based pricing and customers will only have to pay for one license when Itanium goes to four cores. It will be a rude surprise when customers have to pay for 4*.75= 3 licenses per chip.
same old multicore con
Licence prices didn't increase when CPU speeds went from 1 GHZ to 2 GHz to 3 GHz (unless they were class-based).
Now CPU evolution dictates that frequencies stagnate, and core count increases. How is that different from a licencing viewpoint?
It is actually worse from a user view point in many cases (not for OLTP work obviously) as only multi-threaded loads benefit from a multi-core CPU, whereas sequential loads can use all the extra grunt from a frequency increase. I'd take 10 GHz CPU any day rather than a quad-core 2.5 GHz, where most cores idle away.
So we get conned twice: small performance gain for most apps (applies mostly to desktops, but not only), increased licence costs (applies mostly to servers, but not only).
Greed at play, again...
Oracle Pricing Unfair for which vendor!?!?
Article says, "The Oracle price hike on Power6 chips seems unfair given that the quad-core Sparc64 VII processors used in Sun and Fujitsu machines have the same 0.75 scaling factor"
The Power6 processor gains most of it's horsepower from an increase in clock rate (POWER6: 2.2GHz to 5.0Ghz, while SPARC64 processors gain their throughput through an increase in number of cores (SPARC64: 2 to 4 cores), while the CoolThreads SPARC T processor gain their throughput through a massive increase in threads per core (T: 32 threads to 64 threads.)
Article says, "To be fair, Oracle should run a database benchmark test on each processor and come up with a literal scaling factor based on possible clock speeds of all processors and make the scale all relative to the performance of one machine that it picks as the gold standard."
I agree with this sentiment. Just comparing POWER and the SPARC processors...
To be FAIR, the scaling factor for POWER6 should have been 1.50 instead of 0.75.
To be FAIR, the scaling factor for SPARC64 should have been 0.50 instead of 0.75.
To be FAIR, the scaling factor for SPARC-T should have been 0.50 instead of 0.75.
Even with the chart above, POWER would still have an advantage of scaling factor of 0.50 per core over SPARC64 due to IBM's incredibly high clock rate!!!
Most applications that require a third-party database will use a major commercial vendor, like: Oracle Database, IBM DB2, or Microsoft SQL.
Oracle's continuing punishment of SUN and "giving the farm" away to IBM has always seemed odd to me, considering that IBM is a direct commercial competitor, while SUN's MySql is not a direct commercial competitor. The migration of Oracle RDBMS to IBM DB2 is something that IBM's professional services is something that they would LOVE to do, while there is no equivalent professional services group in SUN to move Oracle RDBMS to MySQL.
Oracle needs to "get over it" and stop "cutting it's nose" on SPARC "to spite it's face" - it is just feeding the competition!
Article says, "It will be interesting to see what Oracle does when Sun and Fujitsu roll out the Sparc64 VII+ quad-core chips, which they are expected to do soon"
I don't know why it would prove interesting. It is not like the clock speed will double, as POWER5 to POWER6.
Article says, "Intel gets its quad-core "Tukwila" Itaniums out the door in June or July. The Tukwila chips should certainly get their scaling factor removed, but given that HP and Intel do not have a database software business, I would venture that Tukwilas might sneak by with a 0.75 scaling factor."
There is Microsoft SQL Server on those platforms. The scaling factor may remain, to just be competitive with Microsoft SQL Server. If the clock rate doubles, removing the scaling factor removal may be a reasonable thing, but I doubt the clock rate would double.
Article says, "various other Sparc, and other chips have a 100 VUP rating. ...it is hard to imagine a 16-core "Rock" UltraSparc-RK chip not being in the same range when it comes out sometime in the fall."
I highly suspect that a 16 core RK chip will be 16x faster than a SPARC64 V, VI, or VII core. This being the case, IBM cranking up the VUP rating would be completely "off the chain".