IBM, D-Wave Report Quantum Computing Advances

By George Leopold

May 18, 2017

IBM said this week it has built and tested a pair of quantum computing processors, including a prototype of a commercial version.

That progress follows an announcement earlier this week that commercial quantum computer developer D-Wave Systems has garnered venture funding that could total up to $50 million to build it next-generation machine with up to 2,000 qubits.

Also this week, Hewlett Packard Enterprise Labs introduced what it claims is the largest single-memory computer. The premise behind HPE’s approach is putting memory rather than the processor at the center of the computing architecture. The prototype unveiled this week contains 160 terabytes of main memory spread across 40 nodes that are connected via a high-speed fabric protocol.

Meanwhile, IBM researchers continue to push the boundaries of quantum computing as part of its IBM Q initiative launched in March to promote development of a “universal” quantum computer. Access to a 16-qubit processor via the IBM cloud would allow developers and researchers to run quantum algorithms. The new version replaces an earlier 5-qubit processor.

The company also rolled on Wednesday (May 17) the first prototype of a 17-qubit commercial processor, making it IBM’s most powerful quantum device. The prototype will serve as the foundation of IBM Q’s commercial access program. The goal is to eventually scale future prototypes to 50 or more qubits.

IBM has provided researchers with free cloud access to its quantum processors to test algorithms and develop new applications ranging from modeling financial data and machine learning to cloud security. (The flip side of the data security equation, critics argue, is that quantum computers could some day be used to defeat current data encryption methods.)

Another commercial developer, D-Wave Systems, said this week it has landed $30 million in investor funding to build a next-generation quantum computer with “more densely-connected qubits” for machine learning and other applications. The funding was provided by Canada’s Public Sector Pension Investment Board, which plans to invest an additional $20 million if D-Wave achieves certain development milestones.

Earlier this year, cyber-security specialist Temporal Defense Systems purchased the first D-Wave 2000Q system.

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