Processor Value Unit (PVU) licensing FAQs

for POWER7

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

Processor Value Unit (PVU) FAQs: POWER7 Questions


1. What has been recently announced on IBM Power7?

IBM announced Power7 blades on April 13th 2010 and the mid-range offerings on February 8th 2010.

2. How many Processor Value Unit (PVU) licenses are required for IBM Middleware on POWER7 (P7)?

The PVU rating for POWER7 depends on the type of server model or the maximum number of possible sockets on the server as shown in the table below:

Power PS700 Power PS701 Power PS702 Power 750 Power 755 Power 770 Power 780
Maximum sockets 1 1 2 4 4 8 8
PVUs per core 70 70 70 100 100 120 120

3. How many cores are available on POWER7?

Each POWER7 server model has a number of cores that ranges from 4, 6, or 8 cores per socket.

Power PS700 Power PS701 Power PS702 Power 750 Power 755 Power 770 Power 780
Cores 4 8 8 6, 8 8 6, 8 4*, 8

*Turbocore mode enables switch from 8 cores to 4 cores active and is enabled at IPL.

4. Could you provide an example matrix of possible PVU requirements for POWER7?

Processor Model Maximum Sockets Cores per Socket PVUs per Core Total PVUs
POWER PS700 1 4 x 70 =280
POWER PS701 1 8 x 70 =560
POWER PS702 2 8 x 70 =1120
POWER 750 4 6 x 100 =2400

4 8 x 100 =3200
POWER 755 4 8 x 100 =3200
POWER 770 8 6 x 120 =5760

8 8 x 120 =7680
POWER 780 4 6 x 120 =3840

8 8 x 120 =7680

5. Is this a price increase?

No. IBM remains committed to delivering price performance with the release of new technology, and at these PVU levels this represents a significant price/performance increase over the prior POWER platform to be replaced.

6. Will customers deploying middleware on P7 typically realize software price performance improvements?

Yes. The software price per unit of throughput is typically lower on P7 than on predecessor POWER technology. Customers will typically see higher throughput for similar or lower price.

7. If a customer migrates their IBM middleware from the same number of P6 processor cores to P7, are more PVU entitlements required?

Let us assume a customer is migrating from an 8-way POWER6 server, Power 550, to an 8-way POWER7, Power 750:

Processor Name Server Model Number Number of Cores PVUs required for each Processor Core Total PVUs required
From: POWER6 550 8 120 960
To: POWER7 750 8 100 800

In this example, the customer requires 160 fewer PVUs when migrating from an entry P6 entry machine to a P7 entry machine. Not only are there fewer PVUs required but now customers can expect to run significantly more workload on the newer technology. Since the PVU requirement decreases and performance per core increases, the Power 750 will have significant price / performance improvement.

8. 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.

9. Why do different POWER7 servers have different ratings?

IBM's Processor Value Unit structure enables relative simplicity in software licensing in response to rapidly evolving hardware and multi-core chip technologies. Processor Value Unit licensing provides increased flexibility and licensing granularity, while eliminating the management difficulties presented by fractional per processor licensing.

10. Can I use the server model number to identify the proper PVUs/core?

Yes, with IBM POWER technology server models can be still used to identify the corresponding PVUs per core because the POWER server models are differentiated by the maximum number of sockets per server.

11. Will ILMT have the detection capability to determine the required PVUs/Core on my POWER7 server?

While IBM makes every effort to have access to the latest processor technology from external vendors prior to their general availability (GA), there are circumstances where IBM will not be able to complete testing of the IBM ILMT tool prior to processor GA. Currently ILMT is planned to support processor detection for Power7 in ILMT 7.2.1, which is targeted for release in late April. However, please consult the Eligible Processor Technology table (PDF, 16.7KB) for further updates.

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

Turbo-core mode is only available on the Power 780 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.

13. When the Power System 780 is switched over to Turbo-core mode, do I need acquire license entitlements for all 8 cores?

Turbo-core mode is defined as a "switch" from normal operating mode of 8 cores active to 4 cores active.  Since PVUs are determined on a per active core basis, you will only need to acquire licenses for 4 cores (see example below).

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.

Processor Name Server Model Number Number of Cores PVUs required for each Processor Core Total PVUs required
From: POWER7 780 8 120 960
To: POWER7 780 4 120 480

14. 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.

15. How does IBM assign Processor Value Units for new technology?

As we place new processor technologies in the Processor Value Unit structure, IBM's key objective is to continue to deliver software price performance improvements when customers adopt these new technologies. When assigning Processor Value Units, we will also assess relative processor performance 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. Additionally we have factored scalability into our PVU licensing requirements as measured by the number of sockets on the server. Market conditions and the desire to maintain a simple structure will also be factors influencing the assignment of Processor Value Units.

16. Where can I find the latest PVU table and ratings?

Yes. View the latest PVU Table.

17. What is the status of my license entitlements previously acquired through Passport Advantage under the per processor model?

IBM has two types of program entitlements in Passport Advantage:

  1. License entitlements: Previously acquired per processor license entitlements were not automatically converted to PVUs, but can be used on an "as if converted" basis using a ratio of 1 per processor license equals 100 PVUs licenses.
  2. Subscription and support entitlements: Software maintenance entitlements are automatically converted using a ratio of 1 per processor license equals 100 PVU licenses upon annual maintenance renewal. Passport Advantage account records for software maintenance entitlements have been converted to PVUs.

18. Where can I find additional information regarding PVU licensing?

Below are some links to helpful information regarding PVU licensing:

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

As shown in the diagram below of a quad-core socket, there are 4 cores in this one socket server. 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.

Quad-core Socket.