Below are some of our most frequently asked questions about Processor Value Unit (PVU) licensing and requirements. To view answers, simply click a question.

1. What is a Processor Value Unit (PVU)?

A Processor Value Unit (PVU) is a unit of measure used to differentiate licensing of middleware based on distributed processor technology (defined within the PVU table by Processor Vendor, Brand, Type and Processor Model Number).

IBM continues to define a processor for purposes of PVU-based licensing to be each processor core on a chip. Each software Program has a specific price per PVU. IBM introduced PVUs in 2006 in order to better reflect the relative value a customer can receive when running a workload on any particular processor technology.

2. Are Processor Value Units transferable among servers?

Yes, Processor Value Units for the same program are fully transferable among servers within the enterprise. When transferring to a server with processor cores with a different PVU per core requirement, additional or fewer PVU licenses may be required. If additional PVU licenses are required, the customer must acquire additional PVU licenses for deployment to ensure compliance.

3. What is the part number structure for programs using the PVU metric?

The Passport Advantage part number structure of License plus 12 months of Software Subscription & Support (S&S), S&S renewal, S&S Reinstatement, and trade-up licenses (where offered) is consistent across PVU and Passport Advantage program offerings.

4. Why are some part numbers are only available in minimum order quantities of 10 PVU?

The prices of a few Processor Value Unit programs are so low that when using the quantity of 1 they would yield prices of less than one U.S. dollar. These products are also typically acquired in large numbers. Therefore, a 10 Processor Value Unit minimum was created for ease of ordering, billing, and administration.

5. What determines the required PVU entitlements for a Software license?

The required PVU entitlements for the middleware Software license are determined by the multiplication of (A) the PVU per core rating and (B) the total number of processor cores of the server on which the middleware is installed. For example, 2 cores * 70 PVU per core = 140 PVU.

(A) PVU per core rating

IBM's PVU metric is used to differentiate the processor technology on which the middleware is installed. A PVU per processor core rating is assigned to each processor technology, as represented in the IBM PVU table for servers (for desktops, laptops and workstations, please refer to the assigned section in this FAQ).

A processor technology and the corresponding PVU per core rating are characterized by five attributes:

(B) Total number of processor cores

The total number of processor cores is determined by the multiplication of all the processor chips (or sockets) on the server and the number of processor cores for eachchip (or socket).

For example, a two socket server with Intel Quad-core Xeon processor chips (i.e. four processor cores per chip) has a total of eight cores (two chips times four cores per chip). The PVU requirements for this server are 560 PVU: 70 PVU per core times 8 processor cores.

6. Does IBM continue to define a "processor" to be the processor "core"?

Yes. IBM always has and continues to define aprocessor to be the processor core. Customers are required to acquire software licenses for all activated processor cores available for use on the server. With Processor Value Unit (PVU) licensing, customers acquire PVU licenses based on the number and type of processor cores.

Often times the term "processor core" is referred to simply as a core.

7. How often is the PVU table updated?

The PVU table is periodically updated as new processor technologies become available. The date stamp at the bottom of the table indicates the day it was published.

8. What tools can I use to help determine the required PVU entitlements?

If you already know the processor model, you can just refer to the PVU Table. If you only know the server vendor and server model number, you can refer to the Guide to Identifying your Processor Technology. This guide shows the processor core families and the PVU assignments for the most popular servers commonly sold today. This guide is not intended to replace or substitute for the PVU Table, which is the official source of PVU per Core requirements for servers. It is intended to provide guidance when you know the server model, but you do not know the processor technology.

The Processor Value Unit calculator tool will help you compute the correct number of PVUs after asking you a series of questions.

9. What determines the required PVU per core rating for a laptop, desktop and workstation (per core requirement)?

For laptops, desktops and workstations with AMD or Intel® x86 processors, the PVUper core requirement is 100 PVU per core for all single-core processor technology and 50 PVU per core for all multi-core processor technology (e.g. Core 2 Duo) - except for multi-core Intel®Core™ i3, i5, and i7 processor technologies which are 70 PVU per core.

10. Why is IBM using Processor Value Units?

In today's environment where different processor core technologies can have significantly different workload performance characteristics, it has become important for IBM and other middleware vendors to reflect these performance differences in software licensing. For instance, a customer would need more relatively slower processor cores to run a particular workload than they would using faster processor cores. The price a customer pays should fairly represent the potential value they can receive from those systems, which comes from the amount of possible work the processor can perform.

IBM's Processor Value Unit structure enables relative simplicity in software licensing in response to rapidly evolving hardware technologies. The two primary technology changes which created the impetus for PVU licensing were the widespread adoption of multi-core chip technology (multiple processor cores on a single silicon chip) and the evolution and increasingly widespread adoption of virtualization technologies. IBM's PVU structure provides a foundation for middleware licensing which can adapt to these advances more easily. In addition, PVU licensing provides customers with increased licensing flexibility and granularity, and reduces the impact of software licensing on system design decisions.

11. How does IBM assign PVU per core requirements for new technology?

As IBM places new processor technologies in the Processor Value Unit structure, the key objective is to continue to deliver software price performance improvements. When assigning PVU per core requirements the relative processor performance is assessed using a number of different industry standard benchmarks. These benchmarks may include both transaction processing (e.g. TPC-C) and processor based (e.g.SPECint and SPECjbb) standard benchmarks. Market conditions and the desire to maintain a relatively simple structure are also factors influencing the assignment of Processor Value Units.

12. Are there license management tools available to assist customers in determining software entitlements?

Customers can use the IBM License Metric Tool (ILMT), which is free, to track their IBM program entitlements. Additionally, for a fee customers can substitute IBM BigFix Inventory which includes Tivoli Asset Discovery for Distributed  as a supporting program and offers additional functions.

13. Is a compliance tool such as IBM License Metric Tool (ILMT) required?

Use of the IBM License Metric Tool (ILMT) is only required for sub-capacity licensing. For more information, please refer to the Sub-capacity FAQs.

14. Do I always have to license to the full capacity of the server?

No, you may be able to take advantage of subcapacity licensing if you satisfy the requirements. For more information, please, refer to the Sub-capacity FAQ.

15. Could you provide an example matrix of possible PVU requirements for POWER?

Processor Model Maximum Sockets Cores per Socket PVUs per Core Total PVUs
POWER S822 2 8 x 70 =1120
POWER E850 4 8 x 100 =3200
POWER 880 8 8 x 120 =7680

16. Why is the number of sockets on the server relevant to the pricing I receive?

Server scalability provides customers the capability to achieve higher levels of software utilization. Server scalability can be measured by the maximum number of sockets on the server. Consequently, increased software value can be achieved with increased scalability as measured by the maximum number of sockets on the server.

17. What is the difference between POWER7 and POWER7 TurboCore?

Turbo-core mode is only available on the Power server models. Turbo-core mode allows the server to "switch" from normal operating mode of 8 cores active to 4 cores active. This switch can only occur after an IPL. In Turbo-core mode the 4 cores active achieve higher performance because these active cores can utilize the extra cache made available from the 4 inactive cores.

Note that the inactive cores do not execute any software workload so you do not have to acquire license entitlements for them. Should the customer switch back to normal operating mode, then they will need to have licenses for all 8 cores.

18. What is the difference between a core, chip, and socket?

Each core represents a functional unit within a computing device that interprets and executes software instructions. These cores are connected to the chip. The chip is then connected to a socket which mounts the chip to the motherboard. Often the chip and socket terms are used interchangeably.

19. Could you provide an example matrix of possible PVU requirements for Intel processor technology?

Maximum Sockets Cores per Socket PVUs per Core Total PVUs
2 x8 x 70 =1120
4 x8 x 100 =3200
8 x8 x 120 =7680

20. Why is server scalability relevant to the pricing I receive?

Server scalability can be measured by the maximum number of sockets on the server. Server scalability with the use of virtualization technology provides customers the capability to achieve higher levels of software workload consolidation and utilization of their software middleware assets. Consequently, increased software value can be achieved with increased scalability as measured by the maximum number of sockets on the server.

21. Do the PVUs per core change when I connect sockets on different servers together?

If sockets on two or more servers are connected to form a Symmetric Multiprocessing (SMP) Server, the maximum number of sockets per server increases (For more information on SMP, please consult Symmetric multiprocessing.

For example, when sockets on a 2 socket server with 6 cores per socket are connected to sockets on another 2 socket server with 6 cores per socket, this becomes an SMP server with a maximum of 4 sockets per server and 24 cores, and requires 2400 PVUs (100 per core x 24 cores).

22. Does IBM continue to define a "processor" to be the processor core?

Yes. As in all previous announcements, IBM still defines a processor to be the processor core. Customers are required to acquire software licenses for all activated processor cores available for use on the server. With Processor Value Unit (PVU) licensing, customers are required to acquire PVU licenses based on the number and type of processor cores.

23. What is the difference between a server model and processor model number?

The server model is associated with the entire hardware box containing at minimal a socket/chip with processor core(s), memory, bus, and power supply; while the processor model is subset component of the box that is composed of socket/chip with processor core(s).