A commodity computer is a standard-issue PC that is widely available for purchase. The term usually differentiates typical consumer products from specialized or high-performance computers but is sometimes used to refer to low-cost and no-frills but functional machines.
Commodity computers share various characteristics:
- A base instruction set.
- Widely available software.
- Compatibility with common peripherals.
- Out-of-the-box functionality.
- Architecture common to similar models.
- Parts interchangeable among similar models.
The term “commodity computing” is often used in reference to low-budget cluster computing, which is the use of multiple computers, multiple storage devices, and redundant interconnections to compose the user equivalent of a single highly available system. A governing principle of commodity computing in this context is a preference for inexpensive, modestly performing hardware components working in parallel. Commodity computing systems are conceived, designed, and built to minimize the cost per unit of performance.