Currently, node machines inducted into the network need to have a standard specification. The reasons for this relate to the design of the Internet Computer blockchain protocol. The explanation is as follows.
The Internet Computer blockchain adds capacity by forming new subnet blockchains, which Chain Key cryptography combines into a single blockchain. If the node machines that host a subnet blockchain had different capabilities, then the maximum throughput of the subnet would have to be throttled in order that the slowest node machines could keep up.
This is because the Internet Computer does not pay a block reward. Instead, node machines are rewarded by the protocol in constant terms for not statistically deviating – that is, for producing the same numbers of blocks as the other nodes in a subnet (among many metrics). In fact, if a node machine consistently produced fewer blocks, say, as the result of not having the same specification as other nodes, then it might be penalized by the protocol for statistical deviation. Therefore, to participate economically, you need to run hardware that meets the standard specification (of course, it is also true, that by combining nodes with similar hardware, the Internet Computer maximizes hardware utilization and minimizes the costs of running smart contracts).
The ICA maintains a list of hardware manufacturers who produce node machines meeting the current specification. We do not maintain commercial relationships with any of these suppliers.