Oracle clamps down on multicore licensing

Posted in: Technical Track

I was reviewing Oracle’s Processor Core Factor Table, which lists the multiplier used to calculate the Oracle Enterprise Edition CPU license requirements, and noticed something interesting: the preferential 0.5 core multiplier that formerly applied to all Intel/AMD chips has now been restricted to:

  • Intel Xeon Series 74XX, Series 55XX or earlier Multicore chips
  • Intel Itanium Series 91XX or earlier Multicore chips
  • Intel or AMD Desktop, Laptop/Notebook, or Netbook Multicore chips

What does this mean? Although most if not all currently-available processors see no changes, future multicore server CPU generations will have a cost factor of 1.0, doubling the cost of licensing them for Oracle. For a single Quad-core server running Oracle RAC, it would result in $166,000 in additional licensing costs.

Is Oracle covertly hiking their license fees? Or will they loosen the restrictions once new processors arrive? Do they remember the backlash to their earlier multicore policies?

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About the Author

Marc is a passionate and creative problem solver, drawing on deep understanding of the full enterprise application stack to identify the root cause of problems and to deploy sustainable solutions. Marc has a strong background in performance tuning and high availability, developing many of the tools and processes used to monitor and manage critical production databases at Pythian. He is proud to be the very first DataStax Platinum Certified Administrator for Apache Cassandra.

9 Comments. Leave new

So far I understand the new multi-core table:

is that future generation CPU’s will be counted as 1. So the next 8core will be calculated with multicore factor 1.

I don’t understand your post, because all current generation CPU’s will be calculated with factor .5, as it is now.


Marc Fielding
March 23, 2009 12:46 pm

Hi Joris,

The big deal is that an existing Intel/AMD 4-core processor requires a 2-CPU Oracle license (4 cores * 0.5 factor). But all future processors (not just 8-core) will have a factor of 1, so that same 4-core processor in a future generation would require 4 CPU licenses instead of 2. An 8-core processor would require 8 full licenses ($332k with RAC).

This will level the playing field with respect to SPARC, PowerPC and other factor-1 architectures, but for the growing Intel/AMD user population, it still means a 100% price increase.



Hi Marc, thanks for posting this – it’s obviously further constraining the vertical scalability currently partially available with multi-core chips. It follows the IBM model somewhat of taxing the higher spec cpus with larger license requirements.

I don’t think it’ll be long before Standard Edition gets a similar treatment ?


Hi Marc, the post prompted me to look further down the table – where it’s now specified that AIX P6 chips have had similar limitations applied, ie these have a factor of 1.0 as opposed to the P5 factor of 0.75.

I’m certain that this change in specification wasn’t there in the previous version of the table. Does anyone have a hard copy of it for me to double check ?

Marc Fielding
March 24, 2009 2:03 pm

Hi Tam,

I was looking for a previous version of the table when writing the original post, and couldn’t find one: doesn’t archive pdf files, and google’s cache has the new version. If anyone reading this has the old version though, please do send it on.

Oracle likely changed the P6 factor for the same reason as the factor for Intel/AMD chips: to avoid giving specific advantage to one particular platform.

As far as standard edition go, I can’t see Oracle changing their per-socket licensing model because it would make them uncompetitive when compared to SQL Server.

Pythian Group - Blog
March 27, 2009 12:17 pm

[…] of like Oracle licensing. Pythian’s Marc Fielding detected Oracle clamping down on multicore licensing. In his analysis, “…future multicore server CPU generations will have a cost factor of […]

Ted Broadfield
May 28, 2009 6:05 pm

I came across a FAQ on Oracle’s Partner Network portal under the pricing tab that deals with multi-core. One question addresses Standard Edition and Standard Edition One. It indicated that they will be counting cores with these lower database offerings. Amazing that they are going to increase pricing on their lowest end database offerings.

Pieter Viljoen
November 20, 2011 1:40 am

Just upgraded one site to HP DL980/G7 (64 Cores) from a Itanium (4 Cores).

Not allowed to switch off the cores
Not running extra jobs, just had to make the current ones run faster.

Now interesting thing is that Oracle did not make the process go faster, Intel did. But Oracle wants gazillion more bucks for this achievement (which is not theirs to claim).

Costs for Oracle is now totally unaffordable for the client.

Don’t like Enterprise DB (Postgres), but migrating client



Yup, moving from 4-core to 64-core hardware would definitely increase your licensing costs. For this reason, licensing considerations often play a big role in hardware specification for Oracle servers.

Could your client use a named user plus licensing metric rather than per-processor?


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