Dual-core 'double dipping' raises scepticism

Users will vote with their feet at any hint of revenue-raising on the back of new technology. The reaction comes in the wake of IBM's announcement it will continue to license its software on a per-processor basis regardless whether it is dual-core or not.

Sydney-based biotechnology company Proteome Systems' director of applications technology, Warren McDonald, said that depending on the scale of the system, users should consider a per-user licensing option if applicable.

"We use both licensing schemes - per-processor and per-user," McDonald said. "For high-end systems we use per-processor, and for the low-end per-user is better value."

McDonald, who manages IBM software on Power and Intel-based systems, is positive that IBM and Microsoft - by licensing software per-processor, not per-core - have made the right decision.

"Processor manufacturers have reached the limit with current technologies. Why should software users be punished with higher costs because of processor limitations?" he said.

"As some companies don't offer per-user licensing, the ones that are flexible will attract user interest."

Oracle has publicly stated that it intends to license its software per-core and not per-physical CPU. McDonald views this as "a little bit rude" and will be treating dual-core processors as a single processor.

"Users will probably vote with their feet [but] existing Oracle customers are unlikely to go to DB2 on price and would need other factors," he said. "But with a new venture, they may shy away from it."

McDonald said when chip manufacturers move to 65nm processes the processors may well go back to being single-core anyway.

He said Proteome is looking at Opteron, but some ISVs still lag on support for the architecture.

Regarding the likelihood of AMD charging a significant premium for its dual-core Opterons, McDonald said chip prices will only rise to a point where they are still competitive.

"They make take advantage of this at a single point in time to be competitive," he said. "Everyone pays a premium for the latest processor so they may get away with it [dual-core price hikes] once. As dual-core becomes more standard, users will adopt it."

IT manager Ken Foskey, who requested anonymity for his company, agrees saying a dual-core system is "simply a faster processor".

"Why is the extra core suddenly an extra CPU [and] there certainly are constraints on the CPU because they are within the one chip," Foskey said, adding that a 1.5 performance increase per-dual core CPU would be closer to the truth.

Foskey said the dual-core market will be 'leeched' by AMD for about six to 12 months after which the price will reduce to a "realistic figure".

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