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IBM makes quantum computing available in the cloud

Sharon Gaudin | May 5, 2016
The company's 5-qubit processor is accessible on any desktop or mobile device.

Richard Doherty, an analyst with The Envisioneering Group, called the IBM move a potential game changer.

"Quantum computers may be the most compelling, rich-data, cognitive engines for decades to come," he said. "Our eagerness to solve business, and societal IT and calculation challenges seems limitless. Data farms and smart data demand quantum computing power. If you make it, they will come. IBM and the public get to establish this."

Although D-Wave Systems Inc., a Canadian company, has said it's built a quantum computer and Google and NASA are testing their own quantum hardware, many in the computer industry and the world of physics say a full-scale quantum computer has not yet been created.

IBM isn't saying it's built a quantum computer. What it has are quantum processors, which are much smaller than a full-scale computer.

According to IBM, four to five qubits is the minimum number required to support quantum algorithms and simple applications. IBM's quantum processor contains five qubits.

The company noted that its scientists think in the next 10 years they'll have medium-sized quantum processors of 50 to 100 qubits, which they believe will be capable of tapping into quantum physics.

At 50 qubits, IBM contends that classic computers could not compete with it in terms of speed running complex calculations.

A quantum computer uses qubits, instead of the bits used in classic computers. A qubit has the possibility of being both a one and a zero. Using qubits, a quantum machine doesn't work in an orderly fashion and can calculate all possibilities at the same time.

That means quantum machines should be able to work on problems requiring complex and massive calculations much faster.

Scientists hope quantum computers will eventually be used to find distant habitable planets, create greater computer security and find a cure for cancer and heart disease.

IBM's current quantum processor is being housed at the IBM T.J. Watson Research Center in New York.

"By giving hands-on access to IBM's experimental quantum systems, the IBM Quantum Experience will make it easier for researchers and the scientific community to accelerate innovations in the quantum field, and help discover new applications for this technology," said Krishna.

Source: Computerworld


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