The number of teraflops relate to the number of operations required to compute or process complex calculations undertaken by a system every second. That is actually a pretty basic definition of the term and fair to say, the rabbit hole does indeed go much deeper. However, for the general public, teraflops have become a unit of measurement to ascertain how powerful one console is over the other.
Xbox Series X will feature 12 teraflops or 12 trillion operations per second. In comparison, the original Xbox One delivered just 1.31 and the latter upgrade Xbox One X did 6. Hence, in terms of computing strengths or how the general populace sees, Xbox Series X will be twice as powerful as Xbox One X and eight times as the basic Xbox One — undoubtedly a beast of a machine.
When Sony confirmed PlayStation 5 to be 10.28 teraflops, the console community immediately began debating over the advantage Xbox Series X will have and in some cases, how Xbox Series X has already won the next-generation console war.
Taking to Twitter earlier in the week, former Crytek programmer and current Big Evil Corporation director Matt Phillips dived into a series of tweets to ask the community to stop seeing teraflops as units of measurement of any kind.
He noted that the computing term has no meaning in the way the average console owner tends to think. The quality of games largely depend on other hardware and software aspects and not purely on teraflops. Phillips further added that the industry has hit a ceiling for visual fidelity against resources and hence, better specifications or more teraflops will not solve every problem.
As a 15 year+ games programmer with 24 triple-A titles released on every Nintendo, Microsoft, and PlayStation machine under the sun, neither I nor anyone else in my field has *ever* used "teraflop" as a unit of measurement of any kind. Just drop the word, it's utterly meaningless
— Matt Phillips (@bigevilboss) March 18, 2020
Unfortunately, all of that talk about teraflops being meaningless ended up attracting the rowdy part of the community. Phillips stuck to his original take and clarified that he has no stake in this console war. Whichever console — PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X — wins, fact remains that “some arbitrary metric” pulled from the internet will not make games better.