Field of Science

Flip-flops and MIPmaps

Computer speeds are measured in flops and mips. A flop (or flops, more precisely) is a floating point operation per second. These days, teraflop machines define fast (tera = 1012), while gigaflop (109)machines can be toted in a briefcase. A mips is a million instructions per second. Both flops and mips are difficult to compare between machines, since both depend on the instruction set used. Better to do a benchmark using something like LINPACK and compare times.

MIPmaps are an entirely different animal. The MIP part of the name is an acronym for the Latin multum in parvo or "much in a small space". MIPmaps are collections of pre-calculated chunks of an image that can be used to speed its rendering at different resolutions (say as you move closer to an object in a game). MIP is sometimes used as a shorthand for MIPmap.

Floating point numbers are like sand, everytime you move one, you lose a little sand and pick up a little dirt.

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