IBM continues to push the quantum computing envelope with the news that it is has made an IBM Q system available online to clients that has a 20 qubit processor and has also successfully built and measured a prototype 50 qubit processor, which will be made available in the next generation.
Big Blue first launched a working quantum computer online for anyone to freely access in May 2016. Then a year later in May 2017, it significantly advanced the computing power of its Q Commercial Systems after delivering prototype processors capable of 17 qubits.
IBM it should be remembered is a significant player in the quantum computing 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.
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.
In March this year IBM launched a programme aimed at commercialising quantum computing, and in an industry first move said that it would give companies access to the emerging technology to carry out their own experiments and begin to learn how to program industrial applications for it.
The scheme, called IBM Q, allows Big Blue to create an ecosystem of partners and programming tools around its quantum computers. Already over 1,500 universities, 300 high schools, and 300 private institutions worldwide have registered with IBM Q.
And IBM has said that the IBM Q systems shortly available online to clients will have a 20 qubit processor, and will feature “improvements in superconducting qubit design, connectivity and packaging.”
Furthermore, Big Blue has also successfully built and measured an operational prototype 50 qubit processor, that expands upon the 20 qubit architecture. This new processor will be made available in the next generation IBM Q systems.
IBM has now said that clients will have online access to the computing power of the first IBM Q systems by the end of 2017.
“We are, and always have been, focused on building technology with the potential to create value for our clients and the world,” said Dario Gil, VP of AI and IBM Q at IBM Research.
“The ability to reliably operate several working quantum systems and putting them online was not possible just a few years ago. Now, we can scale IBM processors up to 50 qubits due to tremendous feats of science and engineering. These latest advances show that we are quickly making quantum systems and tools available that could offer an advantage for tackling problems outside the realm of classical machines.”
And IBM is not stopping there.
It said over the next year its scientists “will continue to work to improve its devices including the quality of qubits, circuit connectivity, and error rates of operations to increase the depth for running quantum algorithms.”
For example, the IBM researchers were able to extend the coherence times for the 20 qubit processor to be twice that of the publicly available 5 and 16 qubit systems on the IBM Q experience, all within a six month period.
And in another effort to help quantum researchers and application development, IBM rolled out earlier this year its QISKit project, an open-source software developer kit to program and run quantum computers.
Last week car maker Volkswagen announced that it had joined forced with Google to carry out research into new technology,using a quantum computer.
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