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

Note:Throughout this FAQ, references to Intel Xeon Nehalem EX will refer to only processor model numbers 6500-6599 and 7500-7599.

Processor Value Unit (PVU) FAQs: Intel Xeon Nehalem EX Questions

1. Do you have a FAQ section to answer general Processor Value Unit (PVU) related questions?

Yes, please see the General Q&A section(PDF, 153KB) in the Processor Value Unit Announcement FAQ for customers.

2. What recent announcements has Intel made on the processor technology code named "Nehalem"?

Intel announced their latest Xeon processor technology for servers with more than 2 sockets, code-named Nehalem EX. The Nehalem EX technology is available for servers with 2, 4, 8 and higher maximum number of sockets per server. The performance and scalability of Nehalem EX processor technology is significantly improved relative to pre-Nehalem Intel Xeon processor technology.

3. How does Intel Xeon Nehalem EX differ from Intel Xeon Nehalem EP processor technology?

Intel makes two categories of processor sockets for servers: expandable capacity (EX), and efficient performance (EP) processor technology. The EP processors can run on servers with a maximum of one or two sockets per server. The EX processors can run on servers with 1, 2, 4, 8, or more processor sockets per server.

4. How many cores are available on each Intel Nehalem EX processor socket?

Currently, each Nehalem EX processor socket has 4, 6, or 8 cores. The number of cores per socket is likely to continue to increase in the future.

5. How do I know if my server has Intel Nehalem EX, EP, or pre-Nehalem processor technology?

For Intel Xeon (x86) processor technology, the Intel processor model number is used to identify the specific processor technology. Use the 'Processor Model Number Discovery Guide' or purchase order information to determine the processor model number for your server, and then find the processor model number on the Table of Processor Value Units, which contains a list of processor model number ranges for Intel Xeon processor technologies.

6. How many Processor Value Unit (PVU) licenses are required for software running on Intel Xeon Nehalem EX?

IBM has a 3 tier PVU structure for Intel Nehalem EX processor technology. The PVU rating can be 70, 100, or 120 PVUs per core depending on the maximum number of sockets on the server as shown in the table below.

Intel Xeon (Nehalem EX)
Model Numbers 6500-6599 or 7500-7599
Maximum Sockets 2 4 8+
PVUs per Core 70 100 120

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

Processor Model Maximum Sockets Cores per Socket PVUs per Core Total PVUs
  2 x4 x 70 =560
  2 x6 x 70 =840
  2 x8 x 70 =1120
  4 x4 x 70 =1600
65xx or 75xx 4 x6 x 100 =2400
  4 x8 x 100 =3200
  8 x4 x 120 =3840
  8 x6 x 120 =5760
  8 x8 x 120 =7680

8. Does the PVU requirement for Nehalem EX represent a price increase?

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 systems that will likely be replaced.

9. Will customers deploying middleware on Nehalem EX typically realize software price performance improvements?

Yes. The software price per unit of throughput is typically lower on Nehalem EX relative to prior Intel processor technology for servers with more than 2 sockets. Customers will typically see higher throughput for similar or lower price.

10. Why has IBM introduced 3 PVU tiers for Nehalem EX based on the maximum number of sockets per server?

Nehalem EX is a game changing processor technology that exhibits significant performance and scalability improvement relative to Pre-Nehalem technology. For the first time, with the Nehalem EX, the Intel platform has nearly linear scalability, i.e. performance per core does not drop off with the number of sockets and cores per server increasing up to 8 sockets and 64 cores.

11. 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.

12. Can you provide a customer migration scenario for customers migrating IBM Middleware from Pre-Nehalem technology to Nehalem technology and the related cost savings?

Let's assume a customer is migrating from a 4 socket server with a pre-Nehalem processor chip, code named Paxville (2006), to a 4 socket server with Nehalem EX. A customer will typically see a 25% reduction in price per unit of throughput. From the table below, if a customer required 16 cores for a Paxville, due to performance per core improvements, they may now require PVUs for only 6 cores.

  Processor Core Name Maximum Number of Sockets per Core Cores Active per Socket Total Number of Cores required PVUs required for each Processor Core Total PVUs required
From: Paxville (2006) 8 2 16 50 800
To: Nehalem EX 1 6 6 100 600

13. 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).

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. What have been some historical Intel Xeon processor family announcements?

Intel has maintained several generations of x86 processor models under their Xeon processor family. Intel's current generation of processor models are based on their latest microarchitecture code name Nehalem. The Westmere processor model, Intel's most recent announcement on March 16th 2010, joined the Nehalem EP series but now with six cores per socket. Subsequently, on March 30th, Intel announced their Nehalem EX processor edition, a game changing scalable processor technology. Intel dubbed this technology, EX, for "Expandable" because it scaled so well. The Nehalem EX comes in 2, 4, and 8 maximum possible socket configurations ranging from Quad-Core (4), Hexa-Core (6), and Octi-Core (8).

16. 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). From a PVU requirement perspective, processor model numbers are only relevant to Intel technology. Note however that Intel Nehalem EX requires the additional knowledge of maximum number of sockets on the server to determine the PVU requirement.

17. 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.

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

Yes. View the latest PVU Table.

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

Below are some links to helpful information regarding PVU licensing:

20. 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.