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

Jim Lux James.P.Lux at
Tue Jan 21 09:30:15 PST 2003

At 11:06 AM 1/21/2003 -0500, John Burton wrote:

>But the question remains. In a world where other vendors are charging for 
>the product (fortran compiler) Lahey is charging for running the programs 
>produced by that product. I wrote the FORTRAN source code. I bought the 
>hardware and software for the cluster. I'm paying for the cooling and 
>power to run the cluster. I'm paying for the systems administration. Why 
>should I pay someone else to *run* my code on my cluster? What is the 
>value they add?

They spent time and money writing and supporting the compiler in the first 
place, that's the value they add.  You could write your own code in 
assembler, but that is a)likely to cost you a lot more time in the first 
place and b) unlikely to run as fast in any case; so your total cost "to 
get the job done" is substantially lower (presumably) using their compiler 
than not using their compiler.

As far as other vendors go: they have other goals and cost recovery/profit 
motivations. For example, Intel wants people to use their processors. It's 
in their interest to "give away" the compiler, especially if it's tied just 
to their processor (and doesn't generate code compatible with VIA or AMD). 
One might ask why Intel charges anything at all (if they do..), and in 
fact, why they don't actually pay people to use their compilers, if only to 
get more Intel processors/products visibility. (Well, actually, they DO pay 
people.. they subsidize educational instutions with free/low priced 
hardware, for instance)

>>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.).
>$1500 buys me another node. What value does the Lahey runtime add to the 
>system over and above what an Intel or Portland or even a GNU compiler 
>suite / runtime provides?

Without knowing for sure, perhaps Lahey's compiler (or, more probably, 
their runtime libraries) runs 1% faster.. that's a better deal on a 100 
processor cluster than the extra node, because it is the gift that keeps on 
giving.. no capital cost for the extra node, no incremental cost for power 
(300W*8760 hrs/yr >> $300/yr in electricity), etc, etc.etc..

Ultimately, though, it's just Lahey's way of pricing software, compared to 
how other people do it..   Either you like it or you don't, but, in the 
overall scheme of things, there's no real moral high ground here.. and, to 
be a bit of a Pangloss about it: it could be worse.. you could be paying 
for the software on a "per use" basis as advocated by some large consumer 
oriented companies.


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