Quantum computers: are they here?

Are quantum computers here?

This morning, IBM announced their 20-qubit processor is now available, with a 50-qubit prototype (a device, not a simulator) that has been successfully measured and tested and will be available in their next-generation systems.

The 5 qubit system was impressive, as was the 16 qubit system. But one of the most impressive things has been the rate at which IBM has progressed.

The ability to reliably operate several working quantum systems and putting them online was not possible just a few years ago. Now, we can scale IBM processors up to 50 qubits due to tremendous feats of science and engineering.

-Dario Gil, vice president of AI and IBM Q

But putting a quantum computer online made this not just a theoretical field anymore. Opening up such hardware to the public was a huge shift. Students could use a quantum computer in their education, which meant that not only were physicists familiar with the field using a quantum computer, but that IBM was gathering insights from specialists in chemistry, biology, and other diverse fields.

Thanks to this incredible resource that IBM offers, I have students run actual quantum algorithms on a real quantum computer as part of their assignments! This drives home the point that this is a real technology, not just a pipe dream.  What once seemed like an impossible future is now something they can use from their dorm rooms. Now, our enrollments are skyrocketing, drawing excitement from top students from a very wide range of disciplines.

– Andrew Houck, professor of electrical engineering, Princeton University

Why is this all such a big deal? The 50-qubit threshold is where we might see “quantum supremacy” – where quantum computers are outperforming classical computers. Hitting the 50-qubit threshold is a gamechanger.

Congratulations, team IBM Q!

Quantum Computers: An IBM cryostat wired for a 50 qubit system.

An IBM cryostat wired for a 50 qubit system. (Credit: IBM)

See the press release here: http://www-03.ibm.com/press/us/en/pressrelease/53374.wss

 

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