Oracle has changed the way it licenses its software on multicore systems. Many multicore users will now pay less but analyst group Ovum warned that it further complicates Oracle's licensing scheme.
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Under Oracle's new regime charges will be based on the type of processor being used. Users of Sun's Ultrasparc T1 will pay 25% of the per-processor cost for each core, AMD/Intel systems will be charged at 50%, and other multicore systems will be charged at 75% of the per-processor cost.
Oracle had previously charged 75% of the per-processor cost for each core in a multicore system, rounded up to the nearest whole number.
Chipmaker Intel has predicted that by the end of 2006, 85% of Intel-based servers will ship with dual-core processors.
Jacqueline Woods, vice-president of global pricing and licensing strategy at Oracle, said, "As technology evolves, we have adapted our licensing models to accommodate those changes."
Analyst company Ovum questioned the wisdom of Oracle charging users for improvements in hardware.
"If newer hardware is needed to make software scale, why should the user then pay more money for the software?" it said.
David Mitchell, software practice leader at Ovum, said, "We think that this is a step in the wrong direction - it adds a layer of complexity to Oracle's multicore policy, and with a pricing model this detailed it can only get more complex."
Ronan Miles, chairman of the UK Oracle User Group, said, "It is good of Oracle to continue to revise licensing in line with relative performance."
However, he said it would be useful to see independent research which could show the relative per-core performance boost of running Oracle on Intel/AMD multicore systems, where users pay twice as much per core compared to users of Ultrasparc-based multicore hardware.
Suppliers such as Microsoft and Red Hat do not charge an additional fee for multicore systems.
Oracle to unveil further Fusion details
Oracle chairman Larry Ellison is next week expected to unveil further details of the company's Fusion strategy and middleware platform.
The meeting on 18 January comes as the company moves closer to completing its acquisition of CRM provider Siebel, following approval of the deal by the European Commission.
Project Fusion is both a strategy and an architecture. The strategy aims to link Oracle enterprise applications with those acquired in its takeover of PeopleSoft, Retek and Siebel. The Oracle Fusion Architecture is standards-based technology designed to connect enterprise applications, middleware and grid infrastructure.