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BEA backtracks on dual-core pricing

Server software company scraps policy of charging a 25 percent premium for middleware that runs on dual-core servers.

BEA Systems has changed its server software pricing plan regarding dual-core processors, bringing it in line with the policy advocated by partner Intel.

The company on Tuesday said it will not charge a premium for software that runs on dual-core processors, as . Effective immediately, BEA will treat dual-core chips as a single CPU when calculating software license fees, according to the company.

The middleware supplier emphasized that the shift in price applied to all systems running dual-core chips, including those from Intel, Advanced Micro Devices and Sun Microsystems.

But the company will continue to charge a 25 percent premium for systems using processors with more than two cores.

"This is a very specific and very targeted announcement," Martin Percival, BEA's principal technologist said. "It is very much focused on dual core."

"The elimination of premium pricing for dual-core systems underlies our commitment to providing a competitive pricing advantage against other higher priced solutions in the market," Bill Roth, vice president of product marketing at BEA, said in a statement.

BEA was one of only a few companies that charged a premium--25 percent in its case--for software that runs on dual-core processors. The rationale for charging customers more for server software, which is often priced on a per-CPU basis, is that customers are getting a significant jump in performance for a dual-core server.

Dual-core chips, which are becoming more widespread on servers, pack two processing units, or "cores," on a piece of silicon. The design improves performance while mitigating heat problems that come from faster clock speed.

Chip providers Intel, Advanced Micro Devices and Sun Microsystems favor treating multicore processors as a single unit for licensing purposes, as do the majority of large software providers, including Microsoft. VMWare, for example, recently said that it will follow the so-called single socket policy.

However, there are still some holdouts.

Oracle in July bent its policy so that it now treats each core in a multicore server as three-quarters of a processor.

IBM in April shifted its licensing as well. The company treats dual-core systems based on x86 chips from Intel and AMD as a single CPU. However, for IBM's own Power processors, each core is considered a single processor.

Colin Barker of ZDNet UK contributed to this report.