New server chips carry hidden cost

In the rush to roll out servers that put multiple processors on a chip, IBM, Intel, Sun and others inadvertently are raising software costs for users. At issue is that software vendors such as Oracle and Microsoft that license software on a per-CPU basis are likely to consider each processor a separate CPU, a practice that means double the licensing costs for enterprise users deploying new dual-core servers. These servers have two processors on a single piece of silicon. With four-core servers and more on the horizon, the issue likely will become amplified as vendors try to figure out how to price software and enterprise users work to manage IT budgets.

At the same time, other technologies - such as server virtualization and grid computing - that fall under the utility computing umbrella, in which computer resources are pooled and workloads shifted according to application demands, also are causing some tricky software licensing issues. The trend toward multi-core systems is an effort by server chip makers to drive up performance, while reining in system power requirements and heat generation. By using these architectures, vendors can use more lower-power cores - which generate less heat - instead of ramping up the frequency on single cores to boost performance. IBM has had a dual-core chip since 2001, and Sun and HP rolled out dual-core processors earlier this year. Intel and Advanced Micro Devices recently announced that they would move to dual-core designs in 2005.

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News source: Network World Fusion

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