How to calculate Oracle Processor Core Factor

When you are trying to understand Oracle licensing, especially core base licensing, you will encounter a concept known as Oracle Core factors. So what is the Oracle Processor Core Factor, how do you know which core factor applies and what impact does it have on licensing costs?

What is Oracle Core Factor?

Where the license metric for a product is core based the Oracle core factor is a method of applying a discount linked to the platform you have deployed the product on. Depending on the make and model of CPU in your server the cost of the license is multiplied by a number between 0.25 and 1.0, with the default being 1.0 (no discount). Then the number of cores is rounded up to the nearest whole number. For example, a server running a Sun UltraSPARC T2 processor has a core factor of 0.5 which means that you multiply the number of cores by 0.5 to get the number of core you must license. In this case you are getting a 50% discount on top of any other discount you have negotiated. Oracle Core factor was originally an attempt to take into account the relative performance difference between makes and models of CPU’s but over the years this has changed and is now primarily used to influence the platform purchasing decisions. The core factors are documented in a PDF called Processor Core Factor Table on the Oracle website. To make it a little more confusing for users the original document from 2009 remains on the site but over the years there have been a series of amendments in a section called Statement of Change that continue to be updated to this day. The result is you must read the entire document to check if an entry in the original table has been superseded by an amendment in the Statement of Change.

How do I calculate Oracle Core Factor?

Start with the most current copy of the Oracle Processor Core Factor table on the Oracle website. This is very important as this is amended a couple of times a year. Here are the steps:

  1. Get the CPU Make, Model, Speed and Core count of the physical server on which the product is deployed.
  2. Start with a default core factor value of 1.0
  3. Search Oracle Core Factor table for Make and Model of CPU.
  4. Check CPU speed
  5. Check if there are any special conditions
  6. Note initial core factor.
  7. Continue to look for Make and Model further in document in case it appears in the Statement of Change.
  8. If not found, the core factor is 1.0

Common Errors

There are a few common errors to be aware of:

    • Where the server is virtualized it’s the CPU details of the physical host not the VM that must be used
    • Date of purchase impacts the core factor for Itanium chips
    • There’s a big difference between SPARC T2 and T2+
    • Most desktops and laptops have a core factor of 0.5 but double check.
    • Chip speed matters, especially for SUN, SPARC and Ultra models

If in doubt about the core factor get some advice from an Oracle License consultant. Do not ask your Oracle Account Manager or Oracle LMS for “advice” as this will almost certainly bring unwanted attention to your account and prompt further enquiry from Oracle.

Conclusion

Now that you know how to calculate the Oracle Processor Core Factor you should apply them to the servers in your estate on an annual basis to be sure you are licensed correctly for Oracle. More importantly you should include the impact of core factors to the budget of any hardware upgrade your organization is considering. Even a one-for-one server replacement of an older server (on 0.25 or 0.5 core factor) could require a substantial investment in new Oracle licenses to remain compliant.

Reference

Piaras MacDonnell

Piaras MacDonnell