Published: Fri, November 10, 2017
Research | By Raquel Erickson

IBM says it's reached milestone in quantum computing

IBM says it's reached milestone in quantum computing

Luckily IBM researchers know all about the emerging technology, announcing today that they have come up with the first 50-qubit quantum computer prototype.

Our 20-qubit machine has double the coherence time, at an average of 90 µs, compared to previous generations of quantum processors with an average of 50 µs.

Dario Gil, IBM Research VP of AI and IBM Q, says the increased number qubits is only part of the story. We should savor this period in the history of quantum information technology, in which we are truly in the process of rebooting computing. "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". The company describes it as an initiative to build commercially available universal quantum computing systems accessible through the IBM Cloud platform.

While IBM and its rivals are keen to lead the breakthroughs in quantum computing, they are also increasingly eager to win over new customers.

The IBM Q experience has allowed over 60,000 users to perform more than 1.7 million quantum experiments, which have been used in 35 research publications. This is because quantum computers become exponentially more powerful as more qubits are added thanks to a phenomenon called "entanglement", which relates to the ability of qubits to correlate with each other so that each one is aware of the state of all of the others.


GOOGLE HAS teamed up with entirely honest German vehicle maker Volkswagen to explore ways in which Google's quantum computing technology can be applied in the automotive sector. As this toolkit improves, both through our own contributions, and those of the open-source community, our rate of scientific and technical progress as a community will grow alongside it. He says that IBM wants to push a new metric for quantum computing capability measurement.

Collaboration of the two companies will focus on the research of practical applications of quantum computing.

Martin Hofmann, chief information officer at Volkswagen Group, said: "Quantum computing technology opens up new dimensions and represents the fast-track for future-oriented topics".

IBM has also announced updates to their QISKit Quantum Experience so everyone else can try running quantum algorithms of their own. A qubit is a single unit of quantum information. 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.

Google quantum artificial intelligence laboratory director Hartmut Neven said: "Volkswagen has enormous expertise in solving important, real-world engineering problems, and it is an honor for us to collaborate on how quantum computing may be able to make a difference in the automotive industry". Founding members include Samsung, JSR, Honda, Hitachi Metals, Canon, and Nagase. Gil made the announcement at the IEEE Industry Summit on the Future of Computing in Washington, D.C., on Friday morning. But Google has a 49-qubit processor in the works that may be the first quantum computer to out-perform a classical computer at the same task.

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