What are TFLOPs: Characteristics, Uses and Importance in Consoles

Increasingly, we see the term TFLOPs referring to computers or consoles. Along with the processor, its storage capacity, its graphics card and other aspects that we already knew when dissecting the specifications of a device, now it is very common that we also see that acronym, TFLOPs. You may not know what it means or why it appears in the features, it may be an acronym that you have probably never heard of and you have no idea what it means and if its number affects the performance of your console and how.

If you are doubting which new generation console to buy and you still do not understand this TFLOPs well, what it is for or what it measures and if it will affect the general performance of your gaming device, we will try to solve some of those doubts. What does it mean, if you have to look at that data to choose a console and what specifications have the new generation releases from Sony and Microsoft, the PS5 and the Xbox Series X.

graphic core

What are FLOPS?

FLOPS comes from the English ‘floating point operations per second’, which in Spanish translates as ‘ floating point operations per second ‘. Floating point operation per second is a measure of a computer’s performance in terms of its ability to solve numerical calculations. Until recently the capacity to perform these operations was measured in Gigas, in GFLOPs, but advances have made us already talking about a superior technology that multiplies that capacity in processors until reaching the next unit of measurement: teraflops.

What does TFLOPs mean?

TFLOPs is nothing more than the conjunction of two different terms: teraflops. The T corresponds to Tera, a measurement prefix of the International System to which we have already become accustomed to seeing it on storage devices: Tera equals one billion, Giga equals one billion, Mega equals one million, and Kilo equals one thousand. That is, one teraflops is 1,000 gigaflops, one gigaflops is 1,000 megaflops, and one megaflops is 1,000 flops.

It is not the maximum unit that we can find today as there are supercomputers in some parts of the world that have already passed the TFLOPS phase and are beginning to measure their performance in PetaFLOPS. But we will focus on the TFLOPs and their application on consoles.

What do the TFLOPs measure?

If you have understood the previous paragraphs, you will already know that the more TFLOPs we see in the specifications of a device, the greater its ability to solve this type of floating point operations per second. As we have already explained, FLOPS is the acronym is a measure of the performance of a computer, in this case it measures the ability of numerical calculations. And what applications does it have or how will it affect the performance of my computer that has more or less TFLOPs? And also, why is there so much talk about TFLOPs in reference to video game consoles?

The device with the most capacity to perform more floating point operations per second is the graphics card, so it already gives us an idea of how important this measurement is for a console, since at a glance it allows us to know the graphic performance of a console, a mobile or a computer. Also, 3D graphics processing relies almost entirely on this type of floating point per second operation, FLOPS. Therefore, the more TFLOPs, the better graphic quality. The more FLOPs the greater the number of polygons you can render. In other words, that unit of measurement is related to consoles so much, since, although not absolutely, its power can be calculated with these TFLOPs so common in current debates.

Knowing the FLOPs of a device we will be able to instantly know its performance with respect to other devices, without having to waste time performing tests, especially if it is about different platforms. For example, we can compare the graphic performance of our portable console compared to our mobile or our computer. Knowing what our graphics card is and with a simple search on the Internet we can check how many FLOPS it has and make comparisons between devices.
Although a mobile will have less Potentiometer I to this sense that a next – generation console, progress in smartphones allows us to run an emulator of an old console as a PSP or Nintendo DS, which did not have as many FLOPS like now.

TFLOPs on consoles

Will the console with more TFLOPs be better?

Where this new term is being heard the most, until it becomes a performance standard, is on the new generation consoles. There is a competition between Sony and Microsoft to give the best product to console consumers for the next generation to come and in this war TFLOPS have a lot to say.

But, as in everything, you should not only look at the TFLOPs of a machine to determine if its performance is good or better than that of the competition. Phil Spencer himself, head of Xbox, said it when speaking of TFLOPs on his console and boasting of the twelve that it would include: “It’s like in a car, you wouldn’t describe how fast it is using only one feature. Let’s imagine that a teraflop is like a horse power, we all know what 100 or 200 horse power can do, but it is much more than that. The transmission, the weight… all this influences the final speed of the car ».

That is, although the number of teraflops we see on Xbox Series X or PS5 is different, we must look at all the features of the console before deciding whether one is better than the other, faster or more powerful.

How many TFLOPS do Xbox Series X and PS5 have?

In the data that we already know of the two new generation consoles that Microsoft and Sony have presented, the Xbox Series X can boast of greater power before the PlayStation 5. Sony has announced that its console has 10.3 TFLOPS of gross power in calculations FP32, although some tests determine that it is the peak power that it can reach, while the sustained power would be 9.2 TFLOPS. The Microsoft console in this regard would be more powerful, with 12.1 TFLOPS.

Does this mean that the Xbox Series X is better than the PS5? Not necessarily, although the gross power data is there and is clearly superior to the Microsoft console, there are other aspects in which the Sony machine surpasses its competitor, such as the SSD with a custom controller, an audio chip that will unload work so much. CPU as well as GPU and SmartShift technology with which the unused power will be derived from the CPU to the GPU. It is a fact that you must take into account but it is unfair that you do not pay attention to the rest of the details and specifications.

TFLOPS - Xbox vs PS5

PS5 vs PS4

The new generations not only increase the amount of FLOPS but the use of the same amount would not be the same in one as in the other. The GPU of the PS5 or the Xbox Series X is allows to take advantage of better, or more, the performance of these TFLOPS. In the hypothetical case that they had the same amount, they would be better used in the new generations thanks to this improvement in the GPU. But, in addition, they have a greater quantity.

In the case of the PlayStation 5, its specifications obviously improve compared to PS4 and also in relation to TFLOPS. In this case, helped by an evolution in the GPU of Sony’s latest generation console that will be released in the coming months. While the PlayStation 4 GPU reached 1.84 TFLOPS, with 18 CUs (computing units) at 800MHz, the PS5 GPU will reach 10.28 TFLOPS thanks to its 36 CUs at a speed of 2.23GHz.

Also, the PS4 GPU was mounted on a GCN architecture while the PS5 GPU was on an RDNA 2. An RDNA 2 computing unit is 62% better than that of a PS4 CU, which means that the matrix of the GRP of 36 CU of PlayStation 5 would be equivalent to one of 58 CU in PlayStation 4. And that taking into account that, in addition, it is more than double the speed. That is, it is another much more advanced level and hence the jump from 1.84 TFLOPS on the PS4 to 10.28 TFLOPS on the new Sony console.

And the rest of consoles?

Although the term has become fashionable in this battle of new generation consoles, FLOPS are not something new and have been there for years. Although xbox or Sony boast of this unit in their new specifications, the consoles of previous generations also measure their performance in this unit of measure. Of course, far from the current figures. For example, Sony’s PlayStation 4 Pro has 4.2 teraflops and the PS4 has around 1.8 TFLOPS. Or what is the same, 1840 GFLOPS. A measure that grows and multiplies from generation to generation:

  • Xbox Series X: 12 teraflops
  • PS5: 10.2 teraflops
  • Google Stadia: 10.7 teraflops
  • Xbox One X: 6.0 teraflops
  • PS4 Pro: 4.2 teraflops
  • PS4: 1.8 teraflops
  • Nintendo Switch: 1.02 teraflops

Full Xbox Series X and PS5 specifications

Beyond TFLOPS, we must manage the complete information on the performance of the two consoles when deciding to buy one or the other. Here we leave you the specifications that we already know about the two new generation machines that Microsoft and Sony will launch in the near future.

Playstation 5Xbox Series X
CPU8 3.5 GHz AMD Zen 2 cores (variable frequency, with SMT)8 cores AMD Zen 2 at 3.8 GHz (3.6 GHz with SMT)
GPU10.28 TFLOPs, 36 CUs at 2.23GHz (variable frequency)12.16 TFLOPs, 52 CUs at 1.825 GHz
GPU architectureCustom RDNA 2 with hardware RT supportCustom RDNA 2 with hardware RT support
Memory16 GB GDDR616 GB GDDR6
Memory bandwidth448 GB / s10GB to 560GB / s, 6GB to 336GB / s
Internal storage825GB custom NVMe SSD1TB Custom NVMe SSD
Speed5.5 GB / s (no compression), 8-9 GB / s (compressed)2.4 GB / s (no compression), 4.8 GB / s (compressed)
Additional storageNVMe SSD SlotProprietary 1TB expansion cards
External storageUSB Hard Drive / SSDUSB Hard Drive / SSD
Optical unit4K UHD Blu-ray reader4K UHD Blu-ray reader
HDMI2.1 (4K / 120Hz, 8K, VRR)2.1 (4K / 120Hz, 8K, VRR)
Backward compatibilityPS4Xbox, Xbox 360, Xbox One
Release date2020 christmasNovember 26, 2020
PriceTo announceTo announce