Petaflops: a measurement of computer performance representing 2^50 flops per second.

FLOP is a way of measuring computer performance based on how many floating- point operations can be performed in a second (Floating- point Operations Per Second).

Floating points are the way computers represent real numbers in their calculations. Generally, small integers and real numbers are easy for computers to process, but when the numbers get too large or too small, or when they include decimal points, additional coding is needed for the computer to process them.

Holding with binary coding, the numbers are all represented as powers of two, instead of ten. While not as accurate as fixed- point operations, they can support the very small and very large numbers.

Generally, for average computers, the Instructions per second (IPS) test is sufficient to test the computers capabilities. However, for more powerful computers that rely much heavier on use of arithmetic, a test involving flops was devised.

Thus FLOPS became the standard test for supercomputers. There are very few computers in the world that can reach past the one petaflop mark, and therefore petaflops are generally used when comparing the performance ability of multiple computers connected on one network.

FLOPS only measure a specific point of performance however, and do not cover other important functions such as RAM, clock speed and bus speed.

All of these factors must be taken into account when judging a computer’s processing power and speed.

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