The World’s First Commercial Quantum Computing Service is Here
Quantum computing is the technology that allows you to develop computational systems based on quantum theory. Broadly speaking, this theory taps into the power of atoms to perform memory and processing-related tasks. The obvious advantage with this technology is its speed, as it can perform calculations significantly faster than any device we know today.
To be more specific, quantum computing will tap into the power of the properties of subatomic physics, where small bits of information called quantum bits or qubits possess the property to change into multiple states simultaneously. This way, bits don’t have to be just 0 or 1, as in classical computing. Rather, they can take on any value, and this flexibility can open a world of possibilities for computing.
While the above is a theoretical explanation, the practical side of it has been more challenging. Getting enough qubits to work together to run any algorithm is challenging, to say the least. To address this issue, two major systems have helped. The first one traps individual ions in a vacuum using magnetic or electrical fields while the other sends qubits to microscopic superconducting circuits.
IBM has been one of the pioneers in the area of quantum computing and it has relied heavily on the second approach to build its systems. Recently, it has announced that the world’s first quantum computing service will be available later this year. Called as IBM Q, this service will be accessible over the Internet for a fee.
So, what can we expect from this system? A super-computer that will outperform all the existing computers today? Well, not really.
What we can expect is a system that will play a crucial role in developing other quantum machines that can perform complex tasks, especially those that have been impossible with our current computing technologies.
This system builds around the knowledge and research around IBM’s cloud computing eco-system called Quantum Experience, that anyone can now access for free. This system has been available for public use since May 2016, and it got an upgraded interface recently. Currently, this system allows thousands of researchers worldwide to build the quantum algorithms they want, without having to build their own quantum computer.
So far, IBM has not been forthcoming about the details of IBM Q. It has not given a specific release date, and hasn’t mentioned about how powerful this system would be, or how much it will cost to access it. The only information we have in this regard is that it has lined up its first set of clients, though it hasn’t even specified the exact names.
Though we don’t have much information in this regard, the fact that the first quantum computing system is going to be available, is a big news by itself. It can pave the way for future developments in this industry, and can even propel it to great heights in the near future. In many ways, this is an exciting development simply because quantum computing can do things that were believed to be undoable earlier.