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commodity computer

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.

This was last updated in January 2013

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