Math in Computing


What is a teraflop and why is it important in computing?

A teraflop is a unit of measure of a computer’s performance in which one teraflop is 1012 operations per second—in other words, it means a trillion floating point operations per second. It comes from the word “flop,” or “Floating Point Operations Per Second.” So far, teraflops are not found on your everyday desktop computer; such power is currently reserved for servers and desktop supercomputers, but probably not for long.

Teraflops are used whenever scientists and computer specialists need a great deal of power, such as in a server that needs to be fast and capable of doing many tasks at once in the foreground and background of an application. For example, they are used a great deal in video editing, especially with the advent of high-definition television. They are used in the music industry for editing and digital sound capturing. And they are used in servers that require a great deal of online storage.

But businesses and certain industries may not be the only ones that have teraflop capabilities in the future. They are currently being used in the video gaming industry, and because of the need for more power in more realistic gaming, the demand for teraflops in the home computer is increasing. (There are currently some gaming consoles, such as the Xbox 360, that already have a combined computational power of 1 teraflop.)


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