Commodity Hardware

What Does Commodity Hardware Mean?

Commodity hardware is a term for affordable devices that are generally compatible with other such devices. In a process called commodity computing or commodity cluster computing, these devices are often networked to provide more processing power when those who own them cannot afford to purchase more elaborate supercomputers, or want to maximize savings in IT design.


Techopedia Explains Commodity Hardware

In many cases, commodity hardware setups involve low-cost desktop computers or workstations that are IBM-compatible and can run operating systems like Microsoft Windows, Linux and DOS without additional software or adaptations. These hardware pieces can be connected and integrated to form more sophisticated computing environments without the purchase of a lot of additional high-design hardware.

Another example of commodity hardware is a strategy for some businesses that involves using simpler server hardware, such as a collection of x86 servers to run simple or scaled-down database environments instead of upgrading to more expensive server equipment. This is another good demonstration of the philosophy behind commodity hardware setups, which is that less expensive and simpler equipment can be networked to provide more capability for business computing. Companies that embrace a commodity computing model are often able to save many thousands of dollars in IT procurement plans.


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Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.