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A gigaflop is equal to one billion floating-point operations per second. Floating-point operations are the calculations of floating-point numbers. Terms like "gigaflop" are typically used to understand processor speed and how computers can handle data-intensive operations that would be common in some types of scientific or quantitative processes.
Computer systems use floating-point numbers to represent extremely large numbers that would otherwise require many digits to record. IT professionals use the term "flops" to indicate how quickly computers can calculate these numbers. The use of terms like "gigaflop" correspond to other terms like "gigabyte," which represents one billion individual bytes of data storage.
It’s important to note that in terms of processing speed and power, even the average device such as a laptop or desktop computer has already advanced beyond the capacity of a single gigaflop. With the microprocessors of past years advertising a gigaflop capacity, today’s common processors can handle dozens of gigaflops. Some of the most cutting-edge systems that handle data for large institutions are already calculating performance at a much faster rate, for instance, where professionals may use the terms "teraflops" and "petaflops." One teraflop is equal to 1000 gigaflops, and one petaflop is equal to 1,000,000 gigaflops.