IBM Springs Forward in Quantum Computing

By: Jeff Bertolucci| - Leave a comment


For organizations wanting to test the power of quantum computing, IBM has options, including two new quantum processors the tech giant hails as its most powerful ever.

As reported by Computerworld, IBM has announced new online offerings for researchers curious about the potential of quantum systems, including a 16-qubit quantum computer for IBM Cloud platform customers — a major leap from the five-qubit machine IBM had previously made available for testing.

In addition, IBM has developed a prototype 17-qubit system, its most powerful to date, with twice the performance of its 16-qubit offering.

The Benefits of Going Quantum

The quantum computer is an advanced machine capable of finding solutions to problems too complex for conventional, classical systems, which encode information in bits that take the value of 1 or 0 and act as on/off switches to drive computer functions.

In a quantum system, a qubit can represent both a 1 and a 0 at the same time — basically, it can be in multiple states at once. This design enables a quantum computer to perform more calculations in parallel, making it a problem-solving powerhouse.

Beta Access

IBM’s 16-qubit quantum computer is now available on the IBM Cloud platform, where developers, programmers and researchers can explore tutorials and simulations, run quantum algorithms and work with individual quantum bits. Users thus far have run more than 300,000 quantum experiments on the IBM Cloud, PCWorld reports.

IBM has proposed a new measure of the computational power of quantum computers: quantum volume, which takes into account the number and quality of qubits, circuit connectivity and operational error rates. IBM’s newest prototype commercial processor also offers a significant improvement in quantum volume.

According to Ars Technica, the new quantum volume measurement provides researchers a quick way to gauge the technical advantages and disadvantages of different architectural choices and should find widespread use in the field.

The Future of Quantum Computing

The engineering improvements to IBM’s quantum platform will allow the company to scale future processors to include 50 or more qubits and demonstrate computational capabilities that far exceed today’s classical systems.

“These powerful upgrades to our quantum systems, delivered via the IBM Cloud, allow us to imagine new applications and new frontiers for discovery that are virtually unattainable using classical computers alone,” said Arvind Krishna, senior vice president and director of IBM Research and Hybrid Cloud, in an IBM press release.

Unsurprisingly, research elsewhere is also advancing quantum computing. According to CIO, Florida State University (FSU) researchers have found a way to use atomic clock transitions to stabilize qubits, which are susceptible to magnetic disturbances. By manipulating tungsten oxide molecules containing a single magnetic holmium ion, scientists at FSU’s High Magnetic Field Laboratory (MagLab) have been able to keep a holmium qubit working effectively for 8.4 microseconds — long enough to perform computational tasks.

According to FSU, by lengthening the time needed to stabilize qubits, the MagLab discovery has the potential to significantly boost quantum computing performance.

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About The Author

Jeff Bertolucci

News Writer

Jeff Bertolucci is a Los Angeles-based journalist specializing in technology, digital media, and education. His work has appeared in Kiplinger's Personal Finance, InformationWeek, PCWorld, Macworld, The Saturday Evening Post, The Los Angeles Times and many other publications.