Lahey Licensing of Fortran compiler for Linux - in detail ;-)

Jim Lux James.P.Lux at
Fri Jan 17 16:58:57 PST 2003

I suspect that it is just Lahey's approach to pricing their product in a 
way to maximize revenue in a reasonably fair way that sort of approaches a 
"ability to pay sliding scale" kind of basis.

Nobody has ever claimed that products (in general, and software in 
particular) are priced at their intrinsic value to the buyer.  It's always 
an approximation of some sort, driven by desires to make enough money to 
stay in business, to keep it reasonably simple, and so forth..

It seems to me that Lahey is pricing bigger clusters higher based on the 
reasonable assumption that someone who can afford to build and operate a 
200 processor cluster probably has more "means to pay" than someone 
operating a 4 processor cluster.  Furthermore, the price differential isn't 
all that extreme considering the radically different budgets that probably 
exist... It's a roughly 2:1 price difference for a 16:1 cluster size (and 
presumably, ability to pay) difference.

Considering that the monthly electric bill alone for a 256 processor 
cluster is on the order of $3000 (150W/CPU*256 CPU * 720 hr/month = 27,658 
kWh/month, 0.11/kWh) (not even worrying about facilities costs (AC, etc.), 
the extra $1500 in license fees is pretty small compared to $36K/yr in 
direct operating costs (especially, since the direct cost is probably more 
like $100K/yr.. rent, etc.).

  A 256 processor cluster is a "real system", representing a significant 
capital investment (even if the hardware is donated, it's still worth 
something, to someone) and isn't likely to be one being done "on the cheap 
below the radar".  A 4 processor cluster, on the other hand, is probably 
being done in the nooks and crannies of a budget, and might not even 
officially exist.

I recognize that in the real world, all those operating cost issues might 
be hidden or at least, come out of a different pot of money.

However, on the face of it, Lahey's pricing seems fairly reasonable.

Other vendors may choose other pricing strategies... Some just price their 
stuff high, figuring that 10 sales/yr at $100k/sale is better than trying 
to support 10,000 sales/yr at $100/sale, even if the potential $100 sale 
folks wouldn't get any support.

It all just depends...

At 02:55 PM 1/17/2003 -0700, Craig Tierney wrote:
>On Fri, Jan 17, 2003 at 10:41:20PM +0100, Marnix Petrarca wrote:
> >
> >
> > Hopefully, this clears up some of the misconceptions about our cluster
> > policy.  If you, or any of your customers, have any questions I would be
> > glad to explain in greater detail.
>My point is that I have 4 front ends and 768 nodes (dual proc).  With the 
>Intel and
>Portland Group compilers I have to purchase 4 compilers.  That is it.
>Lahey I have to license my cluster.  Why?
>What if I wanted to distribute (or sell) my executable?  Does Lahey expect
>all of my users/customers to have licenses for their product?   How different
>is this from how a cluster works.  I don't want to compile on all nodes, just
>a subset of nodes.
>If Lahey is providing something else for the cluster of value (mpi 
>debugging or
>profiling tools, etc.) I can understand where the cost would be dependent on
>the number of nodes.  It is my impression that they are not.
>The answers provide above were the same answers I got at SC2001.  They 
>don't make
>sense to me when other vendors are doing it differently.
>Craig Tierney (ctierney at
>Beowulf mailing list, Beowulf at
>To change your subscription (digest mode or unsubscribe) visit 

More information about the Beowulf mailing list