COTS was Re: [Beowulf] 96 Processors Under Your Desktop

Shane Canon canon at
Wed Sep 1 16:28:03 PDT 2004

At the recent Cluster Computing Symposium, there was a panel discussion 
at which one of the panelists (from Cray) made a statement about the 
word "commodity" in HPC.  He grew up in the mid-west where the word 
"commodity" has a well understood meaning.  Commodity means that who you 
buy from really isn't important because all of the products are pretty 
much the same, so the only thing that matters is price.  The panelists 
said that COTS was more high volume than commodity.  I thought he made a 
good point.

(I know Greg probably heard this too, because we sat by each other 
during much of the conference.)


Greg Lindahl wrote:
> On Wed, Sep 01, 2004 at 12:41:24PM -0700, Jim Lux wrote:
>>"requires time and expertise to set up" is of course what makes clusters (as
>>a completed system) not COTS, even though the components or subassemblies
>>may be COTS.
> I learn a new definition of COTS every day. I hadn't seen this one
> before.  I suppose all the parents struggling to assemble toys on Xmas
> eve can console themselves that the mass-market item they bought at
> Wal-Mart isn't COTS...
> -- greg
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Shane Canon                             voice: 510-486-6981
PDSF Project Lead                       fax:   510-486-7520
National Energy Research Scientific
   Computing Center
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Berkeley, CA 94720                      canon at

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