If you’ve ever followed the launch of a new games console or graphics card, you’ve likely come across the term ‘teraflop’ (or TFLOP). But what does it actually mean?
We’ve created this guide to give you a thorough explanation of the term, and explain why it’s an important factor to consider when purchasing new hardware.
What is a teraflop?
A FLOP stands for ‘floating point operation per second’, which is a calculated measure of computer performance.
This can be calculated by multiplying a GPU‘s number of shader cores by the peak clock speed and the number of instructions per clock. This provides a number that’s more representative of the GPU’s overall performance compared to the likes of clock speeds and memory size.
And when we see a figure such as 10 teraflops, it’s informing us that the GPU can process ten trillion floating point operations per second.
Theoretically, then, a higher teraflop should signal a faster performance. We can see this by comparing PlayStation consoles, with the PS4 featuring a 1.84 teraflop GPU, and the PS5 seeing a far better 10.28 teraflop GPU.
However, it’s not always that straightforward, as there are so many important factors to consider for a graphics performance, especially since GPUs are becoming more complex.
For example, the PS5 has a lower teraflop GPU than the Xbox Series X (12 teraflops) yet Sony’s console still delivers a similar performance, and sometimes even exceeds it. The same is true when comparing AMD and Nvidia graphics cards, especially with emerging technology such as ray tracing making it even more complicated.
Certain games will also be influenced more (or less) than others by the TFLOP performance, emphasizing how variable a GPU’s performance can be and why looking at specs alone won’t always reflect the resulting game’s frame rate.
With all of this in mind, we strongly recommend that anyone looking to buy a games console or graphics card should always read reviews to get an idea of graphics performance rather solely relying on specs such as teraflops.