Acronym for million instructions per second. A old measure of a computer's speed and power, MIPS measures roughly the number of machine instructions that a computer can execute in one second. However, different instructions require more or less time than others, and there is no standard method for measuring MIPS. In addition, MIPS refers only to the CPU speed, whereas real applications are generally limited by other factors, such as I/O speed. A machine with a high MIPS rating, therefore, might not run a particular application any faster than a machine with a low MIPS rating. For all these reasons, MIPS ratings are not used often anymore. In fact, some people jokingly claim that MIPS really stands for Meaningless Indicator of Performance.
Despite these problems, a MIPS rating can give you a general idea of a computer's speed. The IBM PC/XT computer, for example, is rated at ¼ MIPS, while Pentium-based PCs run at over 100 MIPS.