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IBM Signs Up Members For Quantum Computing Push

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelance and long standing contributor to TechWeek Europe

Twelve companies and universities now have cloud access to IBM’s quantum computer

IBM is seeking to prove the business and scientific case for quantum computing after announcing the first clients for its IBM Q early-access scheme.

Big Blue had launched this programme (IBM Q) in March this year, which is aimed at commercialising quantum computing.

The idea is that these clients will be given access to the emerging technology to carry out their own experiments and begin to learn how to develop practical industrial applications for it.

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Early Access

And it seems that IBM has managed to sign up some blue chip firms to the scheme, after it revealed that clients now include JPMorgan Chase, Daimler AG, Samsung, JSR Corp, Barclays, Hitachi Metals, Honda, Nagase, Keio University, Oak Ridge National Lab, Oxford University and University of Melbourne.

These 12 organisations have now joined the IBM Q Network, to create an ecosystem of partners and programming tools around its quantum computers.

It is thought that over 1,500 universities, 300 high schools, and 300 private institutions worldwide have so far registered with IBM Q, but the above mentioned 12 organisations will be the first to have online access to the computing power of the first IBM Q systems.

JPMorgan Chase for example will focus on the use of quantum computing in the financial industry such as trading strategies, portfolio optimisation, asset pricing and risk analysis.

Daimler AG meanwhile utilise quantum computing for the development of new materials for automotive application through quantum chemistry, while Samsung will explore where quantum computing may impact the future of the semiconductor and electronics industry.

It should be remembered that the IBM Q Network is designed to provide members with quantum expertise and resources, and cloud-based access to the available quantum computing systems.

Indeed these 12 firms now have cloud access to the 20 qubit IBM Q system, which Big Blue placed into the cloud last month.

Incidentally, IBM has also recently built and measured the first working 50 qubit prototype processor.

“IBM sees the next few years as the dawn of the commercial quantum era – a formative period when quantum computing technology and its early use cases develop rapidly,” said Dario Gil, VP of AI and IBM Q at IBM Research.

“The IBM Q Network will serve as a vehicle to make quantum computing more accessible to businesses and organisations through access to the most advanced IBM Q systems and quantum ecosystem. Working closely with our clients, together we can begin to explore the ways big and small quantum computing can address previously unsolvable problems applicable to industries such as financial services, automotive or chemistry.”

He added that there will be a shared focus on discovering areas of quantum advantage that may lead to commercial, intellectual and societal benefit in the future.

Quantum Future?

Quantum computing is ideally suited to tackling problems and tasks that have enormous amounts of data, which would take supercomputers based on traditional computing techniques a long time to process.

IBM of course is competing with the likes of Microsoft and Google, both of which also have substantial investments in this field.

That said, despite debuting some three decades ago, quantum computing techniques are still very much in their infancy and subject to ongoing research and development.

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