PlayStation 5 vs Xbox Series X – Why teraflops isn’t everything

Sony and Microsoft recently announced the specifications of their respective upcoming consoles – the PlayStation 5 and the Xbox Series X.

The Xbox Series X has been touted by many as being superior on paper because it has a higher teraflops (TFLOPS) performance than the PlayStation 5 – 12 compared to 10.28.

While you may assume that this means the Series X will be a better console than the PlayStation 5, this is not necessarily the case.

While teraflops is a good standard of measurement, it doesn’t necessarily show how well a console will perform in reality.

What is a teraflop

To understand what a teraflop is, you first need to understand what a floating-point number is.

Floating-point numbers include integers, numbers with decimal points, and even irrational numbers.

A floating-point operation is a finite calculation that uses floating-point numbers – as opposed to fixed-point calculations, which only use integers.

This means measuring a processor by the number of floating-point operations (FLOPS) it can execute per second is a more accurate way of calculating the processor’s true power than using just fixed-point calculations.

A teraflop is a unit of measurement that represents the ability of a processor to compute a trillion floating-point operations.

This means that the Series X can process 12 trillion floating-point operations per second, while the PlayStation 5 can process 10.28 trillion.

For a GPU, it is extremely important to be able to execute a high number of floating-point operations – particularly given the implementation of new technologies such as ray tracing, which require more operations to be performed by the GPU.

Other elements to consider

Despite the fact that using teraflops is arguably the most accurate way to measure the power of the consoles, this by no means implies that the measurement standard is perfect.

In the context of the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5, there are other elements that also affect the real performance of your console.

Load times for gamers will also be important, and in this area the PlayStation 5’s custom SSD offers up to 9GB/s of compressed throughput compared to the 4.8GB/s offered by the Series X.

Another element that influences performance is GPU architecture, as well as the memory cache of the GPU.

Even the software used by each console could have a significant impact on the performance of games.

The effect of clock frequencies

Another element to consider is the ability of a GPU to run at high clock frequencies.

At the PlayStation 5 keynote, chief architect Mark Cerny compared a 36CU (control unit) GPU that runs at 1GHz to a 48CU that runs at 750MHz.

His contention was that a GPU with a lower CU count that has a higher clock speed would perform better than the inverse – even though both would be measured as offering 4.6 teraflops.

As highlighted by Notebook Check, the PlayStation 5 has a lower CU count than the Series X, but has higher boost clock speeds.

This could result in the teraflops performance gap being reduced, or even nullified, in terms of real-world performance.

In the context of the PlayStation 5 and the Xbox Series X, there are enough elements to consider that we cannot simply say the Series X will perform better than the PlayStation 5 due to its higher teraflops specification.

The specifications of the Xbox Series X and the PlayStation 5 are detailed below.

Xbox Series X vs PlayStation 5

Specifications Xbox Series X PlayStation 5
CPU AMD Zen 2 (8-Core 3.8GHz) AMD Zen 2 (8-Core 3.5GHz)
Internal storage 1TB SSD 825GB SSD
Expandable storage 1TB Expansion Card NVMe SSD
External Storage USB 3.2 External HDD Support USB External HDD Support
I/O Throughput 4.8GB/s 5.5GB/s
Optical Drive 4K Blu-ray 4K Blu-Ray

Now read: Xbox Series X vs PlayStation 5 – Ultimate console showdown

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PlayStation 5 vs Xbox Series X – Why teraflops isn’t everything