Thursday, 14 December, 2017

IBM Reaches a Computing Milestone

33106602201_3351615639_z-1 Volkswagen to work with Google on quantum computing projects
Preston Stone | 11 November, 2017, 04:01

Although quantum computing is still relatively new, underpowered and expensive it has the potential to solve particular complex problems highly efficiently. The 20-qubit processor will power IBM Q when it becomes available by the end of 2017, while the more powerful 50-qubit chip is expected to be integrated with the quantum platform sometime next year.

The machine is now in the "operational prototype" stage, which means that it is still quite far off from commercial use. Instead of being built on machines interpreting zeroes and ones in on/off states, quantum computers can live in multiple states.

Our modern computers process ones and zeros, whereas quantum computers can represent ones, zeros or both (at the same time) as qubits commingle in entanglement and superposition states. That extreme performance, comes at a cost.

The company today announced two quantum processor upgrades, including a new 20-qubit processor and a working prototype of a 50-qubit processor. While that set an industry record in length according to MIT Review, those times have to improve significantly for commercial viability.

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The company said the first IBM Q systems will be powered by the 20-qubit processor, which offers significant improvements over its earlier 16-qubit and 5-qubit chips that power the IBM Quantum Experience. Eventually, the 50-qubit system will be used to help empower future IBM Q experiences. If you recall, IBM launched its first quantum computer for cloud users in May 2016. People who would know say it's a massive leap from just 18 months ago, when IBM unveiled a 5-qubit quantum computer.

"I use the IBM Q experience and QISKit as an integral part of my classroom teaching on quantum computing, and I can not emphasize enough how important it is". In a recent Nature paper, the IBM Q team pioneered a new way to look at chemistry problems using quantum hardware that could one day transform the way new drugs and materials are discovered. Today's quantum machines are in the 90 microsecond range. IBM Q scientists have now expanded QISKit to enable users to create quantum computing programs and execute them on one of IBM's real quantum processors or quantum simulators available online. "The holy grail is fault-tolerant universal quantum computing".

IBM also pointed towards its growing quantum computing ecosystem. Gil says they are working with standards bodies to try and develop post-quantum computing encryption algorithms, and while they are a long way from achieving that, they certainly seem to understand the magnitude of the issues and are trying to mitigate them.

These quantum advances are being presented today at the IEEE Industry Summit on the Future Of Computing as part of IEEE Rebooting Computing Week.

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