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IBM Processor Value Unit (PVU) Calculator

Processor Value Unit (PVU) licensing for Distributed Software

A Processor Value Unit (PVU) is a unit of measure used to differentiate licensing of software on distributed processor technologies (defined by Processor Vendor, Brand, Type and Model Number). IBM continues to define a processor, for purposes of PVU-based licensing, to be each processor core on a chip (socket). Each software Program has a unique price per PVU.

In the rapidly changing world of technology, old words may take on new meanings. Following are four key definitions that all IBM software sellers need to understand in order to fully explain IBM's software licensing to customers:

  • Core - A functional unit within a computing device that interprets and executes software instructions.
  • Chip - electronic circuitry, containing but not limited to at least one core, on a silicon wafer.
  • Socket - the mount that secures a chip to a motherboard.
  • Processor - There is currently disagreement in the computer industry over the definition of a processor. IBM defines a processor as the core. For example, a dual-core chip has two processor cores on it.
What is a processor?

IBM, as do most middleware vendors, continues to define a processor as the core because this is where the software actually executes. Most hardware vendors, though now define the processor as a chip. This change began with the introduction of x86 dual-core chips in April, 2005.

Some people in the industry, especially hardware vendors, have suggested this point of customer confusion could be solved if middleware were licensed at the chip level instead of the core. This approach won?t satisfy customer requirements, though. With the power available in today?s processor cores, customers increasingly want to partition their systems so that an application runs in a subset of the processors in a server, and have the licensing structure support this. This is the reason IBM introduced sub-capacity licensing in April, 2005.

For an example, let?s look at a customer who has a server with two dual-core chips (4 processor cores) and only wants to run DB2 on one core. If per chip licensing were used, they would effectively have to license for both processor cores on that chip, not just the one the customer was actually running the middleware on. Leveraging sub-capacity licensing at the processor core level, however, they would only require DB2 to license at that level. This situation will worsen as the number of cores per chip continues to increase in the coming months and years.

Why did IBM introduce Processor Value Units?

Customers tell us that the widespread adoption of multi-core chips has presented them with a number of challenges.

Among the key challenges are:

  • More complex licensing structures.
  • Unique licensing requirements for differing technologies since processor cores often do not get faster in later generations.
  • The need to support the leading virtualization technologies.

Facing these challenges, customers are asking IBM for:

  • As simple a licensing structure as possible, understanding that simplicity needs to be balanced against precise measurements of the potential value that a customer receives from their middleware.
  • Greater flexibility in deploying middleware licenses on servers that use multi-core chip technologies, using sub-capacity licensing where they have partitioned those systems more granularly.
  • Continued middleware price performance improvements as the underlying hardware performance improves.

When PVUs were initially introduced in July, 2006, our focus was on converting customers from per processor to processor value units without changing customer prices for IBM middleware deployed on existing processors. With this successfully accomplished, we are using the introduction of new processor families, such as x86 quad-core, SPARC64 VI and POWER6 to begin the evolution to a structure based on relative performance.

Processor Value Unit (PVU) Calculator

The tables below list existing generally available processor technologies.

PVU Table per Core (section 1 of 2 - RISC and System z)




Gemini PPA (Passport Advantage) Advisors

Gemini Systems is an IBM Premier Business Partner authorized to resell software licenses across WebSphere, Lotus, Tivoli, Rational and Information Management brands via the Passport Advantage and Passport Advantage Express programs. With over 20 years of industry experience, we routinely handle complex IBM software licensing scenarios including reinstatements, trade-ups, contract addendums, competitive situations and compliance issues.

Passport Advantage Program

Gemini PPA Advisors work closely with clients to answer questions, assist with sizing, perform PVU calculations, provide estimates, and structure competitive quotes. If you need assistance, please call (212) 480-3960 ext. 123 or use the form below. One of our sales associates specializing in the Passport Advantage Program will respond to you shortly. We look forward to working with you. Read more...

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Gemini Systems is an IBM Premier Business Partner. We can help you with all your licensing needs. To speak with a sales associate, please call (212) 480-3960 ext. 123 or visit our contact page for more information. We look forward to working with you.

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