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Can you help me with my software licensing question?

Can I run a 1 processor license of SQL Server on a 2 processor system without breaking the license ? I'm not talking about cores but two physical cpu's, 8 cores total.

As I understand it the licensing is basically an "honor system", I can install it and it will run on all cores, however can I legally install a 1 processor license and then just select four cores and that would be fine by Microsoft ?

Or do I have to have a two processor license just because the server happens to have two physical processors ?

marked as duplicate by voretaq7 Feb 11 '12 at 4:03

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No it wouldn't be. You need to license the physical processors visible to the operating system.

If a copy of SQL Server is running on a physical operating environment, processor licenses are required for all of the processors on that physical server. See Special Licensing Considerations.

If you wish to only use 1 proc (4 cores) then you could virtualize the server & present the 4 cores to the virtualized OS & MS would be happy with you running a 1 proc license.


SQL Server 2005 licensing FAQ is here, and SQL Server 2008 licensing FAQ is here.

For both, it's quite plain:

A processor license gives you the right to install any number of copies of SQL Server 2008 in a single physical or virtual operating system environment, as long as you have purchased processor licenses for all of the physical processors on that computer.


You have to acquire licenses only for processors that are accessible to any copy of the operating system upon which SQL Server 2008 is installed. In a virtualized environment, processor licenses are required for every processor that is accessed by a virtual machine. Please see the virtualization licensing brief and virtualization white paper for more information on how to license under a virtualized environment.


IIRC, in order to be properly licensed on your machine, you either need to buy a second license, or physically pull the other processor out of the machine. It is not enough to just disable the second CPU via software or BIOS means.

  • Not exactly. If you can limit the virtualization environment to only access one CPU, you could still do it. The other CPU would then handle OS base load, or other applications running - in case of hyper-v - in the host instance. As long as the guests only access one CPU.... there is no need to pull out the second processor. – TomTom Mar 8 '10 at 17:28

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