IBM develops prototype 50 qubit processor

Volkswagen to work with Google on quantum computing projects

The new IBM prototype also gives it a lead in the quantum computing department as it is faster than Google's 49 qubit machine that is still in the works.

"IBM's team is fantastic and it's clear they're serious about this, but without looking at the details it's hard to comment", he said, adding that more qubits doesn't necessarily translate to a leap in computational ability. Instead of being built on machines interpreting zeroes and ones in on/off states, quantum computers can live in multiple states.

In the first move, IBM says the first IBM Q systems available online to clients will have a 20 qubit processor; a result of improvements in superconducting qubit design, connectivity and packaging. Recent additions to QISKit also include new functionality and visualization tools for studying the state of the quantum system, integration with the IBM Data Science Experience, a compiler that maps desired experiments onto the available hardware, and worked examples of quantum applications. It will be accessible by the end of the year. "We at Volkswagen want to be among the first to use quantum computing for corporate processes as soon as this technology is commercially available", said Martin Hofmann, chief information officer of the Volkswagen Group. Google has offered science labs and artificial intelligence researchers early access to its quantum machines. The more Qubits you deal with, the more complex the qubit interactions become because they interact with one another in a process called entanglement. Whereas classic computers encode information in regular "bits", represented by ones and zeros, quantum computers encode information in "qubits", which can be ones, zeros or both at the same time. "IBM researchers have managed to achieve the higher qubit number with low error rates, making them highly useful to researchers".

In the case of the 50-qubit system, the quantum state was only maintained for 90 microseconds. "In prior years, the course was interesting theoretically, but felt like it described some far off future", said Andrew Houck, professor of electrical engineering, Princeton University. He does believe that the technology will likely arrive during his lifetime.

From video games to medical science, many industries have benefitted from the stupendous growth that has been seen in processor making technology over the years. IBM has made significant strides tackling problems on small scale universal quantum computing systems. Gil made the announcement at the IEEE Industry Summit on the Future of Computing in Washington, D.C., on Friday morning. Such algorithms and simulations are expected to be suitable for several experimental computing operations. As well, IBM has industrial partners exploring practical quantum applications through the IBM Research Frontiers Institute, a consortium that develops and shares a portfolio of ground-breaking computing technologies and evaluates their business implications.

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