Multinational technology company, IBM, has announced an industry-first initiative to build commercially available universal quantum computing systems. Dubbed as ‘IBM Q’ quantum systems and services, IBM states the system will be delivered via the IBM Cloud platform.
Why Quantum computers?
The company states that technologies that currently run on classical computers, such as Watson, can help find patterns and insights buried in vast amounts of existing data. Quantum computers on the other hand will be able to deliver solutions to important problems where patterns cannot be seen because of non-existent data or multiple probabilities and possibilities to get the right answer by classical computers.
Who is it for?
The IBM Quantum Experience can be used by anyone to connect to IBM’s quantum processor via the IBM Cloud, to run algorithms and experiments, work with the individual quantum bits, and explore tutorials and simulations around what might be possible with quantum computing.
According to the company IBM Q systems will be designed to tackle problems that are currently seen as too complex and exponential in nature for classical computing systems to handle. One of the first and most promising applications for quantum computing will be in the area of chemistry.
“IBM has invested over decades to growing the field of quantum computing and we are committed to expanding access to quantum systems and their powerful capabilities for the science and business communities,” said Arvind Krishna, Senior Vice President, Hybrid Cloud and Director for Research, IBM.
“Following Watson and blockchain, we believe that quantum computing will provide the next powerful set of services delivered via the IBM Cloud platform, and promises to be the next major technology that has the potential to drive a new era of innovation across industries.”
Helping developers and programmers
Along with IBM Q, the company has also announced the release of a new API for the IBM Quantum Experience that enables developers and programmers to begin building interfaces between its existing five quantum bit (qubit) cloud-based quantum computer and classical computers, without needing a deep background in quantum physics.
According to Big Blue, this will be further backed by the release of an upgraded simulator on the IBM Quantum Experience that can model circuits with up to 20 qubits. In the first half of 2017, a full SDK (Software Development Kit) will be released on the IBM Quantum Experience for users to build simple quantum applications and software programs.
Big Blue states that it wants to build IBM Q systems to expand the application domain of quantum computing and a key metric will be the power of a quantum computer expressed by the ‘Quantum Volume’, which includes the number of qubits, quality of quantum operations, qubit connectivity and parallelism.
As a first step to increase Quantum Volume, IBM aims at constructing commercial IBM Q systems with 50 qubits in the next few years to demonstrate capabilities beyond today’s classical systems, and plans to collaborate with key industry partners to develop applications that exploit the quantum speedup of the systems.
“Classical computers are extraordinarily powerful and will continue to advance and underpin everything we do in business and society. But there are many problems that will never be penetrated by a classical computer. To create knowledge from much greater depths of complexity, we need a quantum computer,” said Tom Rosamilia, Senior Vice President, IBM Systems.
“We envision IBM Q systems working in concert with our portfolio of classical high-performance systems to address problems that are currently unsolvable, but hold tremendous untapped value.”
IBM’s roadmap to scale to practical quantum computers is based on a holistic approach to advancing all parts of the system. IBM will leverage its deep expertise in superconducting qubits, complex high performance system integration, and scalable nanofabrication processes from the semiconductor industry to help advance the quantum mechanical capabilities. Also, the developed software tools and environment will leverage IBM’s world-class mathematicians, computer scientists, and software and system engineers.