What Does Picosecond Mean?

A picosecond (ps) is a unit of time that equals one trillionth of a second, or 1,000 nanoseconds. This length of time can be applied to processing and data transfer speeds or other types of high-speed operations in modern computing and technology.


Techopedia Explains Picosecond

The term picosecond has generated controversy among IT professionals who point out that because of some inherent limitations to processing and data transfer speed, even the operations of highly sophisticated supercomputers are not likely to reach a picoseconds benchmark, but are best measured in nanoseconds.

To put this in perspective, at the speed of light, an impulse travels just under 30 cm in one nanosecond. That makes it extremely unlikely that even data transfer operations served by the most modern kinds of connections can happen in picoseconds in the near future.

Developers and others also have pointed out that above the nanosecond range, it becomes extremely difficult to measure operations with many existing hardware setups. At the same time, some researchers have reported picosecond-range speeds for some types of processors and other emerging technologies.


Related Terms

Latest Hardware Terms

Related Reading

Margaret Rouse

Margaret Rouse is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical, business audience. Over the past twenty years her explanations have appeared on TechTarget websites and she's been cited as an authority in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine and Discovery Magazine.Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages. If you have a suggestion for a new definition or how to improve a technical explanation, please email Margaret or contact her…