IBM announced the development of the most powerful quantum computer ever built, capable of handling 50 qubits (quantum bits) in IEEE Industry Summit on the Future of Computing on Friday.
IBM manufactures and markets computers hardware, middleware, and software, and offers hosting and consulting services in areas ranging from mainframe computers to nanotechnology and has been investing a lot in quantum computing research. This announcement puts IBM at the top of quantum computing development.
The 50-qubit machine is so far the largest and most powerful quantum computer ever built. IBM is also set to hold a 20-qubit quantum computing system which would be available to third-party clients through IBM cloud computing platform.
Sustaining the life of qubits is still the biggest challenge in quantum computing industry. IBM has successfully managed to preserve the quantum state for both systems for breath-holding record of around a total of 90 microseconds which already is a massive success in this thriving industry.
However, IBM is not the single player in the game. Google and Intel are also investing a lot in the research. The Google and UCSB team jointly had already announced that they are planning not just to create a fully functional quantum computer, but to instead create a system that can support 49 qubits in superposition reliably. D-Wave, a Canadian quantum computing company has been making quantum computers for NASA and Google. Righetti Computing – a Berkeley, California-based developer of quantum integrated circuits used for quantum computers also develops a cloud platform called Forest that enables programmers to write quantum algorithms.
Closer to ‘supremacy’
Quantum computers are incredibly powerful machines that take a new approach to processing information. Built on the principles of quantum mechanics, they exploit complex and fascinating laws of nature that are always there but usually remain hidden from view. By harnessing such natural behavior, quantum computing can run new types of algorithms to process information more holistically. They may one day lead to revolutionary breakthroughs in materials and drug discovery, the optimization of complex man-made systems, and artificial intelligence. We expect them to open doors that we once thought would remain locked indefinitely.
Rather than store information using bits represented by 0s or 1s as conventional digital computers do, quantum computers use quantum bits, or qubits, to encode information as 0s, 1s, or both at the same time. This superposition of states—along with the other quantum mechanical phenomena of entanglement and tunneling—enables quantum computers to manipulate enormous combinations of states at once. It is best suited to tackling complex optimization problems that exist across many domains such as:
- Machine learning
- Sampling / Monte Carlo
- Pattern recognition and anomaly detection
- Image analysis
- Financial analysis
- Software/hardware verification and validation
- Bioinformatics / cancer research
Learn more about Quantum Computing from this video by Kurzgesagt – In a Nutshell: