Microsoft Corp. does not plan to change its per-processor software licensing model when hardware containing dual-core and multicore processor technology for the Windows platform becomes available next year.
The Redmond, Wash. software maker will announce on Tuesday that all its software currently licensed on a per-processor model will continue to be licensed that way for hardware that contains dual-core and multicore processors.
This policy applies to several products in the Windows Server System family, including SQL Server, BizTalk Server and others, Cori Hartje, Microsofts director of marketing and readiness in the worldwide licensing and partnering program, told eWEEK in an interview late Monday.
“For example, Microsoft SQL Server Standard edition will be able to run on a four-processor server with dual-core processors, utilizing all cores on the processors, and requiring just four licenses. Thats the same number of licenses required if the SQL Server software is running on a server with single-core processors,” she said.
Hartje also stressed that the current version of SQL Server, the Windows Server 2003 family of products and associated Microsoft server applications that currently operate on todays server hardware would also run on the upcoming hardware with dual-core processors.
“This was recently demonstrated by [Advanced Micro Devices Inc.] on an HP ProLiant DL585 server powered by four dual-core AMD Opteron processors and running a Microsoft Windows Server 2003 operating system,” Hartje said.
Microsoft had also received a lot of industry feedback, especially from Intel Corp. and AMD, which showed that it “made sense for our technology to be licensed in the per processor mode. We really want our customers to take advantage of these enhanced technologies and of the growth and the speed that they will be able to get from that,” she said.
Dual-core processors consist of two processing execution units, or cores, on one chip, and are viewed as a promising way to boost computing power, allowing servers, workstations and PCs to perform more functions simultaneously, Hartje said.
Both Intel and AMD plan to deliver dual-core processors for industry standards-based server hardware, and both companies product road maps include plans for multicore processors.
Intel executives have said that by the end of 2006 they expect more than 80 percent of the companys server products to be shipping with multicore technology.
Margaret Lewis, a commercial software strategist for AMD, of Sunnyvale, Calif., told eWEEK that the company was “extremely pleased that Microsoft has joined us in our leadership position pushing dual-core technology out into the market.”
“If they hadnt done it, or if a vendor chooses not to do it, it would bring a layer of disruption to the existing software ecosystem. And you know, I think these vendors might find that their customers just say no to the software for dual-core systems. The customer might not exercise these options, but they could,” she said.
Vendors of proprietary RISC systems, such as Hewlett-Packard Co. and IBM, charge on a per-core basis; if a processor contains two cores, for example, a customer is charged for two “processors.” The problem is that the definition of processor may become increasingly confused.
An older Pentium IV microprocessor, for example, processes one instruction thread, switching threads as needed. Intels Hyper-Threading technology, also known as thread-level parallelism, lets a chip work on two threads, or programs, at once.
Intel has not said whether its dual-core desktop chips will be hyper-threaded; however, analysts have said a multithreaded multicore chip is a virtual certainty in the server space.
Suns “Niagara” processor, by contrast, uses eight processor cores, each with four-way multithreading capabilities, for a total of 32 threads. Toss in Intels “Silvervale” and AMDs “Pacifica,” virtualization technologies, which will allow a processor to run more than operating system at a time, and the industry could evolve in a direction that Lewis called “messy.”
“The whole issue is up in the air. There are so many different technologies, not just virtualization … weve seen broader software licensing models trying to take on different levels of functionality. It just doesnt work well with the tried-and-true one server per processor idea. We just want everybody to get a fair price for their software,” Lewis said.
Marty Seyer, the corporate vice president and general manager of AMDs Microprocessor Business Unit, Computation Products Group, said AMD was “relentlessly committed to preserving the IT managers investment in the enterprise, and Microsofts multicore software decision aligns perfectly with AMDs focus on customers.”
AMD Opteron single-core processor-based systems would be upgradeable to multicore hardware and software, allowing businesses to run their existing applications without having to replace their servers, he said.
Microsofts Hartje is also set to give a luncheon keynote entitled “Looking Ahead: Variables, Views, and Value of Volume Licensing” at the SoftSummit 2004 event in Santa Clara Tuesday.
As many of the attendees were vendors interested in licensing issues, Hartje said she would be going through some of the best practices Microsoft has discovered, as well as how it has adapted some of its licensing models to the industry.
“For example, we are seeing an increasing number of mobile users and the question arose how to best support them. So we now have the user client access license. I will also talk about the different ways we approach the mid-and small-tiered markets with the programs we have rolled out over the past few years, like our Open Value Programs. This will be sort of an update to where Microsoft is,” she said.
Andy Lees, Microsofts corporate vice president of server and tools marketing, would then take the floor to talk about dual-core and multicore technology and the companys per-processor licensing model around that, she said.