FLOPS Definition & Meaning

Short for floating-point operations per second, a common benchmark measurement for rating the speed of microprocessors. Floating-point operations include any operations that involve fractional numbers. Such operations, which take much longer to compute than integer operations, occur often in some applications.

Most modern microprocessors include a floating-point unit (FPU), which is a specialized part of the microprocessor responsible for executing floating-point operations. The FLOPS measurement, therefore, actually measures the speed of the FPU. One of the most common benchmark tests used to measure FLOPS is called Linpack.

Many experts feel that FLOPS is not a relevant measurement because it fails to take into account factors such as the condition under which the microprocessor is running (e.g., heavy or light loads) and which exact operations are included as floating-point operations. For this reason, a consortium of vendors created the Standard Performance Evaluation Corporation (SPEC), which provides more meaningful benchmark values.

A megaFLOPS (MFLOPS) is equal to one million floating-point operations per second, and a gigaFLOPS (GFLOPS) is equal to one billion floating-point operations per second. A teraFLOPS (TFLOPS) is equal to one trillion floating-point operations per second.

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