Project Scorpio has 6 Teraflops of power! But wait, what’s a teraflop?

Vu Anh Nguyen

While the Xbox One S is all well and good as a slimmer, sleeker version of the original black box, gamers with the future of gaming in mind should be much more interested in the other hardware Microsoft unveiled at E3. Yes, we are talking about “Project Scorpio“, the newest, baddest brother to join the Xbox family. Despite a release time frame a year away, Scorpio has been confidently touted by Microsoft as the “most powerful console ever built”; what backs up this claim, apparently, is the 6 teraflop of processing power the machine will hold. Now if you are, like many, befuddled by the word “teraflop”, rest easy: here’s a pretty good explanation, gathered by the folks at Polygon.

In short and simple terms, “flop”, or “floating point operations per second” refers to the calculation of numbers with decimal points. The number of flop for a computer, then, is the number of such calculations a computer can complete per second, which scientists have determined is a good unit of measurement for computing power. A teraflop is a trillion of those calculations, so Scorpio will be able to do 6 trillion per second. Doesn’t sound like a bad number.

What does these numbers all mean, then, in gaming speak? For starter, consider this: The NVidia GTX 1080 – the most powerful video card on the market – can do 8.9 teraflop. How about within the console world as of today? Here’s a nice comparison chart:

Here’s how Project Scorpio stacks up to competitors. Credits: Polygon

And here’s some experts talking about flops (recommended for the enthusiasts)

All in all, Project Scorpio’s 6 teraflops sounds like a very good amount of processing power for a console, that should open up entire new possibilities for game makers in the console market. As the scientists in the above video have explained, however, teraflop is by no mean an absolute measure for power, and whether it will become just another marketing buzzword, or Project Scorpio will truly herald a new era of ultra-high resolution gaming and VR, one time can tell. After all, a year is not a long time.