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What are FLOPS?

by Stephen M. Walker II, Co-Founder / CEO

What are FLOPS?

FLOPS, or "floating point operations per second," is a measure of computer performance, useful in fields of scientific computations that require floating-point calculations. It represents how many calculations a processor or system can complete in a one second period. This can range from kiloflops (KFLOPS), millions of operations per second (megaflops - MFLOPS), billions of operations per second (gigaflops - GFLOPS), trillions of operations per second (teraflops - TFLOPS), all the way up to petaflops (PFLOPS), and exaflops (EFLOPS). For example, a processor performing 5 FLOPS would be able to carry out 5 floating-point operations per second.

How are FLOPS calculated?

FLOPS are calculated by counting the number of floating-point operations (like multiplication, division, addition, subtraction) that can be performed each second. This measure is often used in the field of high-performance computing (HPC) and in assessing the computational requirements of AI models.

  • Single-precision FLOPS: These are calculated using single-precision floating-point numbers, which use 32 bits.
  • Double-precision FLOPS: These are calculated using double-precision floating-point numbers, which use 64 bits.

What is the significance of FLOPS in AI?

FLOPS is a crucial metric in AI as it quantifies the computational complexity of an AI model or the training process. It helps in estimating the computational resources required and the time it would take for the model to train or infer.

  • Model complexity: FLOPS can give an estimate of the complexity of an AI model. More complex models usually have higher FLOPS.
  • Training time: The number of FLOPS can also give an estimate of the time it would take to train the model.
  • Inference time: FLOPS can help estimate the time it would take for the model to infer, or make predictions.

How are FLOPS impacting AI development?

FLOPS is significantly impacting AI development by providing a quantifiable measure of computational requirements. It helps developers and researchers estimate the resources and time required for training and inference, thereby aiding in efficient resource allocation and planning.

  • Resource allocation: FLOPS helps in efficient allocation of computational resources for AI model training and inference.
  • Planning: Knowing the FLOPS of an AI model can aid in planning and scheduling of AI tasks.
  • Performance benchmarking: FLOPS is often used as a performance benchmark for comparing different AI models or hardware.
  • Energy efficiency: FLOPS can also be used to measure the energy efficiency of AI computations.

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