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SQL Server 2012 Editions, License options and hardware limits November 10, 2013

Posted by fofo in Sql Server, SQL Server 2012.

In a recent seminar I gave regarding SQL Server 2012 I was asked to clear a few things regarding SQL Server 2012 editions and their license options/pricing. In this post i will shed some light on this issue.

I will start by talking about the various license costs per SQL Server 2012 editions. Please note that there is no datacenter and workgroup edition in SQL Server 2012 version.

Before I go on I would like you to note that there is not a socket licensing anymore.  A physical socket is what sits on the motherboard.This is where the processor fits. Multi-core is a physical processor that has many cores in it. For example you can have one socket with one processor that has four cores. Some people are confused with the term logical core. The new licensing model that is based on physical cores not logical ones. Logical cores is a term that refers to hyper-threading,meaning we can have logical cores from each physical core.

In SQL Server 2012 Enterprise Edition we have a core-based licensing system. The cost is $6874.00 per core.  The absolute minimum is four-core per socket.
In SQL Server 2012 Business Intelligence Edition the licensing system is different. You  have to pay a Server license plus CALs.This is $8592.00 per server, plus CALs which is $209 per CAL.

In SQL Server 2012 Standard Edition you can pick the licensing model that fits your needs.You can go for core-based which is $1793.00 per core. The absolute minimum is four-core per socket.

Alternatively you can go with Server license plus CALs. The cost is $898.00 per server, plus CALs which is $209.00 per CAL. These are the official figures.

If you have a virtualised environment you must license the virtual core in each virtual machine. There is a minimum of 4 core lisenses required for each virtual machine.

Your organisation can have different arrangements with Microsoft.In any case you can always have a look at the Microsoft License Advisor tool.

Now I would like to talk about the various editions and their hardware related license limits that could affect your hardware selection decisions e.g the processor selection and how many cores it has.

In  SQL Server 2012 Enterprise Edition we have features like database snapshots, data compression,table partitioning,resource governor. These are critical features for large databases and we must opt for that edition. Naturally it has the  highest license costs.
When it comes to operating system memory that can be used from SQL Server Enterprise Edition 2012 is all that the operating system can provide e.g in Windows Server 2012  the OS supports 4TB of RAM. SQL Server 2012 Enterprise edition can support all this memory. When it comes to processors it can support all the processors the OS “sees”. It can use for example 128 processors. Make sure that you choose a server hardware very carefully. There are for example processors in the  AMD family that have 4 sockets with 16 physical cores in each of them. That is 64 cores X the cost for the Enterprise edition that is almost half a million dollars in licensing costs.Make sure you choose a processor that can handle your workload and keep in mind licensing costs.

In SQL Server 2012 Business Intelligence Edition (SSIS,SSAS,SSRS) when it comes to hardware upper limits, this edition can use all the physical cores the OS supports which in Windows Server 2012 edition is 4TB of RAM. It can also use all the processors that the OS “sees” which is hundreds of physical cores for Windows Server 2012 edition.

With Business Intelligence Edition multiple, high core-count processors are affordable since it is a server based license. No worries about the number of cores for you.

Many organisations use the Standard Edition of SQL Server 2012.  That is due to budget limitations. There are hardware limits for this edition. It supports 4 sockets or 16 physical cores and 64 Gbytes of RAM for the database engine and the SSAS.

Well, in this case you have to be careful. Do not write a hardware recommendation for a server that has a 4 socket processor with 32 cores or 256Gbytes of RAM if you plan to install SQL Server 2012 Standard Edition in it. Standard edition cannot use/harness this hardware-power. So you might get an angry call from your manager if you are not careful.

When it comes to Developer edition of SQL Server 2012 there are no license costs but you cannot have this edition in a production environment.

The SQL Server 2012 Express Edition is a free edition. It has a four-core CPU limit and 1GB RAM limit
It also has 10GB database size limit.

The SQL Server 2012 Web Edition is targeted at web hosting. It supports 64GB limit for memory for Database Engine 64GB limit for memory for SSAS.

Hope it helps!!!!



1. datzme - March 9, 2014

Lovely, question here – if we require same for historic editions and versions of SQL then where can we find the accurate figures.

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