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Biggish Blue expands its “quantum” cloud computing

by on13 November 2017

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The ever shrinking Big Blue is expanding what it calls quantum computing as a cloud service.

Since last year IBM has offered a five qubit version and now it is pumping up the volume to 20 qubits.

The outfit also announced that IBM researchers had successfully built a 50 qubit prototype, which is the next milestone for quantum computing.

Quantum computing is a difficult area of technology to understand unless you are a cat which can exist in two different states at once. The theory is that instead of having a machine which interprets zeroes and ones in on/off states, quantum computers can live in multiple states at once. This creates all kinds of new programming possibilities and requires new software and systems to build programs that can work with this way of computing.

Dario Gil, IBM Research VP of AI and IBM Q, says the increased number qubits is only part of the story. The more qubits you deal with, the more complex the qubit interactions become because they interact with one another in a process called entanglement.

However the higher the qubits, the higher the error rate as they interact. Big Blue has managed to achieve the higher qubit number with low error rates, making them highly useful to researchers.

IBM has been battling the coherence problem which means that there is only a a brief window of time before the qubits revert to a classical computing state of zeroes and ones. Now they can manage a 90 microseconds range.

With this release and the improvements that IBM made to the QISKit, a software development kit (SDK) to help companies understand how to program quantum computers, they can continue to advance the technology.

IBM sees applications for quantum computing in areas like medicine, drug discovery and materials science as this technology advances and becomes better understood.

Last modified on 13 November 2017
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