Input/output operations per second (IOPS, pronounced eye-ops) is an input/output performance measurement used to characterize computer storage devices like hard disk drives (HDD), solid state drives (SSD), and storage area networks (SAN). Like benchmarks, IOPS numbers published by storage device manufacturers do not directly relate to real-world application performance.
To meaningfully describe the performance characteristics of any storage device, it is necessary to specify a minimum of three metrics simultaneously: IOPS, response time, and (application) workload. Absent simultaneous specifications of response-time and workload, IOPS are essentially meaningless. In isolation, IOPS can be considered analogous to “revolutions per minute” of an automobile engine i.e. an engine capable of spinning at 10,000 RPMs with its transmission in neutral does not convey anything of value, however an engine capable of developing specified torque and horsepower at a given number of RPMs fully describes the capabilities of the engine.
The specific number of IOPS possible in any system configuration will vary greatly, depending upon the variables the tester enters into the program, including the balance of read and write operations, the mix of sequential and random access patterns, the number of worker threads and queue depth, as well as the data block sizes. There are other factors which can also affect the IOPS results including the system setup, storage drivers, OS background operations etc. Also, when testing SSDs in particular, there are preconditioning considerations that must be taken into account.