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  • What is a Gigaflop?

    Flops are a special acronym that describes a unit of measurement known as "FLoating point Operations Per Second". This measurement is extremely important in determining the amount of operations which could be handled by computer technologies. In today's computing, gigaflops of data can be handled by different hardware options. A gigaflop is a measurement in terms of one billion floating point operations per second. This is useful for modern day computers because they tend to process so many operations in a given second. The fastest modern supercomputers are capable of performing at the petaflop level, which is one quadrillion operations per second.

    Why Gigaflops are Useful

    The technologies which use this much computational power are efficient enough to do almost anything in real world computing. They are capable of handling large amounts of strain and can produce amazing results with what is thrown at them. The advancements in the technologies are only making them capable of handling more and more operations and instructions.

    Why Gigaflops are Useless in the Normal World

    Normal world computing rarely uses such vast amounts of computations. Running a computer with basic software would rarely exceed one Gigaflop of computational power. The only uses of higher amounts of Gigaflops were for extremely resource intensive applications and as a unit of theoretical measurement of possible integer tasks. Video games began to take advantage of the combined Gigaflops of the CPU (processor) and GPU (graphics processor) to make more and more realistic gaming experiences. This lead to more accurate simulations and other advanced technologies which are not used by the general population. The advent of higher processing power is useless to individuals who do not use technologies.gigaflop

    Who needs more Gigaflops

    Gigaflops are really not as important as they may sound but they do come in handy in a select few applications. The common computer user will not need more gigaflops because they will never be running anything on their computers which will make use of the available gigaflop processing power. Instead, these computer users are more likely to run bulky processes which use physical memory. Laboratories and other computational applications will require the need to process multiple operations in larger quantities. They will be using many more Gigaflops for their applications when extreme number crunching is required.

    Examples of Technology with Gigaflop Processing Power

    Computing Processors – In the year 2000 there were processors which were able to compute around 2 to 4 Gigaflops which made computers noticeably faster than their ancestors. When compared to computers a decade from that time period, performance of trillions of flops are now possible with base model, store-bought computers and video game entertainment systems.

    Sony PSP (PlayStation Portable) – the PSP is a handheld gaming system which has the ability to process 2.3 Gigaflops at a time. This seems like a small amount when compared with its actual capabilities. The truth is that the videogames do not need large graphics processing as much as other consoles.

    Sony PS2 (Playstation 2) – In the year 2000, Sony released the 6.2 Gigaflop capable Playstation 2. It was the precursor to the Sony PSP, using many of the same technologies. Videogames on the PS2 were revolutionary with high amounts of computations needed to create the 3 dimensional worlds and game characters.

    Microsoft Xbox – When Microsoft decided to get into the gaming world, they released a 7.3 Gigaflop capable system called the Xbox. The Xbox showed promise and a very competitive rivalry with the Sony PS2.

    Nintendo Wii – Nintendo was ready to release a new gaming console which was capable of 61 Gigaflops of computational power. The games which are designed for the Nintendo Wii console have yet to reach the full potential of its 61 Gigaflops.

    Microsoft Xbox 360 – The Microsoft Xbox 360 has a recorded 355 Gigaflops under its belt. This is required to run the advanced games available for the system. The ability to process this much calculations at once with a game has not been tested yet.

    Sony PS3 (Playstation 3) – According to Sony, the PS3 has a whopping 2018 Gigaflops (2.018 Teraflops) of processing power. The game console makes use of Bluray disc technology and has been shown to be memory intensive. The ability to use all 2018 Gigaflops of processing power has not been proven even though it is theoretically possible with this system.

    The Future of Flops in Technology

    The Flops as a unit of measurement is not always the best route to use when technology is in question. Some computers and devices have much slower processors which are able to calculate more Flops than faster options and vice versa. These units should not matter to the casual computer user and even some of the advanced users out there. Unless you are trying to create a supercomputer, the need for flops as a unit of measurement is really irrelevant to real world usage. Flops have the current nomenclature for their values:

    • kiloFLOPS – 1,000 (One Thousand Flops)
    • megaFLOPS – 1,000,000 (One Million Flops)
    • gigaFLOPS – 1,000,000,000 (One Billion Flops)
    • teraFLOPS – 1,000,000,000,000 (One Trillion Flops)
    • petaFLOPS – 1,000,000,000,000,000 (One Quadrillion Flops)
    • exaFLOPS – 1,000,000,000,000,000,000 (One Quintillion Flops)
    • zettaFLOPS – 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 (One Sextillion Flops)
    • yottaFLOPS – 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 (One Septillion Flops)

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