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What is a teraflop?

Microsoft revealed that the Xbox Series X comes with 12 teraflops of power, but what does that actually mean? Here’s what to know about the common speed unit.

So, you’re in the market for a new graphics card, but you’re stuck trying to figure out which option is right for you. On top of comparing specs, you’ve probably seen the words “teraflop rating,” but maybe you’re not sure what it means.

A teraflop rating measures your GPU’s performance, and it’s often crucial when it comes to sifting through all the graphics cards. There’s a lot you should know about teraflop (TFLOP) measurements and ratings.

OK, what is a TFLOP?

Unlike gigahertz (GHz), which measures a processor’s clock speed, TFLOP is a direct mathematical measurement of a computer’s performance.

Specifically, a teraflop refers to a processor’s capability to calculate one trillion floating-point operations per second. Saying something has “6 TFLOPS,” for example, means that its processor setup can handle 6 trillion floating-point calculations every second, on average.

Microsoft rates its Xbox Series X custom processor at 12 TFLOPs, meaning that the console can perform 12 trillion floating-point calculations each second. For comparison, the AMD Radeon Pro GPU inside Apple’s 16-inch MacBook Pro tops out at 4 teraflops, while the redesigned Mac Pro can reach up to 56 teraflops of power.

Do TFLOPs matter for gaming?

Microsoft recently revealed details about its Xbox Series X, stating that its graphics processor can be 12 teraflops of performance. That’s double the 6 teraflops on the Xbox One X! The company described this as a “true generational leap in processing and graphics.” And that’s mostly true — processor speed isn’t everything for game performance (look at what the PlayStation 5 is doing with new storage innovations, for example). Still, it is a core factor in how well…

Jon Martindale

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