Microsoft Corp has confirmed that it will treat multi-core processors as a single processor for software licensing, avoiding a potentially expensive upgrade for forthcoming new processors from Intel Corp and Advanced Micro Devices Inc.
The software giant has announced that Microsoft software currently licensed on a per-processor basis will continue to be licensed per-processor regardless of the number of CPU cores running within those processors.
The policy effects several existing products that are capable of running on dual-core chips, including Microsoft SQL Server and BizTalk Server, and is line with the model advocated by both Intel and AMD.
The two chip vendors will launch dual-core platforms next year, with multi-core chips to follow and have been encouraging software vendors to think about their software licensing policies ahead of the introduction. Dual-core chips will have two cores, potentially instantly doubling software licensing costs.
The support of Microsoft is likely to encourage the rest of the industry as the previous support of Red Hat Inc, Novell Inc and Sun Microsystems Inc for AMD’s multi-core plans has shown that software vendors are open to more flexible licensing schemes.
Oracle Corp, however, has been less forthcoming. Jacqueline Woods, vice president global pricing and licensing strategy at Oracle told ComputerWire in September that it intended to continue its strategy of treating each core as a separate processor, as it does with IBM and Sun’s multi-core RISC chips.
Dual-core processors for one to eight socket servers and workstations are due to ship in the middle of next year. Dual-core client devices are expected to ship in the second half of 2005. Intel has said that by the end of 2006 it expects more than 80% of its server products to be shipping with multi-core technology.