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IBM Software makes jump to Sun's Niagara

IBM has posted details on how it will price software for servers that use Sun's "Niagara" multi-core processors, following a similar move by Oracle.

In December last year, Sun released servers that use a processor with multiple cores, or processing units. Formerly code-named Niagara, the UltraSparc T1 chips are designed to boost performance and lower power consumption.

On its web site, IBM said middleware which will run on UltraSparc T1-based servers with four and six-core processors will require two software license entitlements, while servers with eight-core processors will require a three software license entitlements.

IBM also launched a "two for one" software license purchase limited offer for customers upgrading or buying some new IBM pSeries servers.

The arrival of dual and multi-core processors has upset the traditional per-processor pricing scheme, causing policy shifts and licensing disparities among vendors.

IBM last year shifted its own pricing plan to accommodate x86 dual-core chips from AMD and Intel, where it charges one license per processor. But for its own Power5 chips, it considers each core a CPU for licensing purposes.

Oracle, too, made some adjustments for multi-core processors in July last year. Then in December, it lowered its prices, charging less of a premium for multi-core chips.

In the case of Sun's UltraSparc T1 chips, Oracle considers each core on a Sun UltraSparc T1 processor a quarter of a processor when pricing software.

Meanwhile, other major infrastructure software companies, including Microsoft, have a policy that treats a multicore chip as a single processor for calculating license fees.