Quantum computers are mostly inaccessible for the average person. Last year, programmers and developers jumped at the chance when IBM offered free public access to their five qubit quantum computing processor. There were more than 300,000 experiments run on the machine.
On May 17th, IBM released a press release stating that it has successfully built and tested its most powerful platforms for quantum computing. The two platforms are the 16 qubit Quantum Experience universal computer and the 17 qubit commercial processor prototype for their IBM Q commercial system. The 16 qubit processor allows for more complex experimentation than the previous processor. IBM hopes that again, developers, programmers, researchers, and anyone working in the field will make use of the platform. Beta access is available by request. Their 17 qubit prototype commercial processor is IBM's first of its kind and has been engineered to be at least twice as powerful as what is available today to the public in the IBM Cloud.
IBM hopes to engineer processors to include 50 or more qubits and demonstrate computation capabilities beyond today's classic computing systems, in the near future. IBM notes that the computational power of a quantum processor to solve problems depend not only on the number of qubits, but the quality of them, how they talk to each other, and how much they can minimize the quantum errors that can occur. Quantum information is fragile, so those aspects are crucial.
Technology such as Watson, that is currently run on classical computers, can help find patterns and insights buried in vast amounts of existing data. Quantum computers, on the other hand, will deliver solutions to problems where patterns can't be found because there isn't enough data and the possibilities that are needed to be explored to get the answer are too enormous to be processed by classical computers.
IBM states in their press release that future applications of quantum computing could include the following:
- Business Optimization: Providing improved solutions to complex optimization problems found in supply chains, logistics, modeling financial data, and risk analysis;
- Materials and Chemistry: Untangling the complexity of molecular and chemical interactions leading to the discovery of new materials and medicines;
- Artificial Intelligence: Making facets of artificial intelligence such as machine learning much more powerful; or
- Cloud Security: Using the laws of quantum physics to enhance the security of private data in the cloud.
If you would like to learn more about IBM Q, you can check out the website here.