What is a teraflop?
Amy Apon, professor of computer science and computer engineering and director of the Arkansas High Performance Computing Center in the College of Engineering, replies:
A “flop” is a contraction of “floating point operation” -- generally, arithmetic operations on numbers that contain decimal points. In scientific computing the performance of a computer is measured in “flops,” sometimes written “flop/s,” which is floating point operations per second. “Tera” means trillion, just as “giga” means billion, “mega” means million, and “kilo” means thousand. A computer that operates at one teraflops operates at one trillion floating point operations per second. Notice the “s” on teraflops -- since it refers to the number of operations each second. It is technically incorrect to say that a computer operates at one teraflop.
The fastest computer today operates at more than one petaflops, which is 1000 teraflops, or more than one quadrillion floating point operations per second! On Nov. 18, at the International Conference for High Performance Computing, Networking, Storage and Analysis, a new list of the 500 fastest computers in the world will be released. Visit http://www.top500.org/ to see this list.