As touched on above, Oracle recognizes certain technologies as a valid means by which to “hard partition” a server. When a server is hard partitioned, only the segment of the physical host that runs Oracle requires licensing. Technologies that Oracle has not certified as hard partitioning, such as VMware, fall into the category of “soft partitioning.” These soft partitioning technologies don’t limit Oracle license requirements.
The terms “capped” and “uncapped” are sometimes informally used to refer to hard and soft partitioning, respectively. These terms, however, can get confusing when discussing IBM LPAR technology, which is one of the methods that Oracle has qualified as hard partitioning. Like Oracle, IBM has its own set of terminology. In IBM speak, LPARs may be created with a mode of “capped” or “uncapped.” In the IBM world, the terms “capped” or “uncapped” refer to two different options for how the LPAR consumes processing power. When it comes to Oracle licensing, however, an LPAR is a valid hard partition, regardless of whether the LPARs mode is “capped” or “uncapped.” So an “uncapped” LPAR is still a hard partition.
In general, regarding server partitioning, “capped” means hard partitioned while “uncapped” means soft partitioned. But in the specific context of IBM LPARs, capped and uncapped are well-defined technical terms that don’t refer directly to Oracle licensing policy.