Text Size

IBM established a landmark in computing Friday, announcing a quantum computer that handles 50 quantum bits, or qubits. The company is also making a 20-qubit system available through its cloud computing platform.

IBM, Google, Intel, and a San Francisco startup called Rigetti are all currently racing to build useful quantum systems. These machines process information in a different way from traditional computers, using the counterintuitive nature of quantum physics.

The announcement does not mean quantum computing is ready for common use. The system IBM has developed is still extremely finicky and challenging to use, as are those being built by others. In both the 50- and the 20-qubit systems, the quantum state is preserved for 90 microseconds—a record for the industry, but still an extremely short period of time.

Nonetheless, 50 qubits is a significant landmark in progress toward practical quantum computers. Other systems built so far have had limited capabilities and could perform only calculations that could also be done on a conventional supercomputer. A 50-qubit machine can do things that are extremely difficult to simulate without quantum technology.

To read more, click here.
Category: Science