We have a new milestone in the history of computing: IBM is announcing a new project that has given life to the most sophisticated quantum computer to date, thanks to its 50 qubits, or quantum bits, that open up a world of possibilities for a new and powerful way to process information.
In addition to this, IBM is also announcing a new quantum computer of 20 qubits, which will be the first to be available commercially within the cloud services offered by the company. With this, IBM seeks to take the lead in this segment that has begun to explode and where companies like Google and Intel are betting in an important way.
An important jump towards 90 microseconds
While ordinary computers work with operations based on ones and zeros, quantum computing allows working in multiple states, and the more qubits you have, the more complex the interactions and operations you can perform. This process is known as “entanglement” where, despite having a greater number of interactions, there is also the risk of having a higher error rate, so sometimes more power does not mean lower error rates.
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Working with quantum states also brings another problem: consistency, since these states tend to exist for a short period of time, a short interval before the qubits return to a classic computing state of ones and zeros. To give us an idea of this, the first quantum computers of the late 1990s had a coherence of only a few nanoseconds. Last year a new milestone was reached, reaching 47 and 50 microseconds for 5 qubit machines, which was the most important jump in the history of quantum computing.
Today in the case of IBM we are facing a functional 50-bit prototype with 90 microseconds of coherence, while the commercial version of 20 qubits, which will be available before the end of 2017, will be able to move between 70 microseconds.
With this type of project, IBM seeks to develop the “Holy Grail” of quantum computing, which would be an impressive universal fault-tolerant system that automatically corrects errors, as well as having unlimited coherence. Come on, a utopia today.
IBM is one of the companies that takes more years in the research of quantum physics applied to computing, only last year showed its platform of 5 qubits, which could be tested by anyone from your smartphone, and in May this year the 17 qubits, it means an important update that now reaches 20 and with tests under 50 qubits, a record in the industry.
This type of computers and their ability to perform very powerful calculations in a short time are used in various research tasks, such as in the development and discovery of new drugs, as well as in the design of new materials, financial analysis, artificial intelligence, cryptography and security in the cloud.