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What is Commodity Computing?

 , updated on November 14, 2016
Commodity computing is the use of inexpensive computers in distributed computing. It is the basis of cloud computing whereby a large number of machines are used as a single platform. Commodity computing evolved in the late 1990s as a way to achieve the scale required to meet the demands associated with the growth of the commercial internet. It has several advantages over purchasing high powered computers to achieve similar levels of computing power:


A cloud computing platform can be designed to be scaled without limit with the exception of resource limits such as cost.

Incremental Scale

If you have a supercomputer, purchasing a second supercomputer is a big decision. Commodity computing can be scaled in small increments as required.


When a commodity computer fails it is common just to swap in a new one. If the computer is under warranty it goes back to the manufacturer. Otherwise it may go to recycling. High powered computers generally need to be repaired potentially resulting in more downtime.

Cost Per Compute Unit

Commodity computers aren't state of the art technologies that command a high price. As such, they are generally cheaper per computing unit.


Managing thousands of machines that are all much the same may be easier than managing 50 high power computers that have unique hardware profiles.
Overview: Commodity Computing
TypeCloud Computing
Information Technology
DefinitionThe use of inexpensive computers in distributed computing.
Related ConceptsInformation Technology
Cloud Computing

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