IBM Ready To Calculate Qubits With First Cloud-Connected Quantum Computer (Virtual Tour)

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IBM Research is giving back to the world today with the announcement that its quantum processor is now accessible by the public. The project is called the IBM Quantum Experience and allows regular Joes (and Janes) to manipulate individual quantum bits (or qubits) so that they can test algorithms or run experiments.

Making its superconducting 5-qubit processor publicly-accessible should go a long way towards validating the immense work that is being performed behind the scenes to usher in a new era of computing. “This moment represents the birth of quantum cloud computing. By giving hands-on access to IBM’s experimental quantum systems, the IBM Quantum Experience will make it easier for researchers and the scientific community to accelerate innovations in the quantum field, and help discover new applications for this technology,” said IBM Research SVP and Director Arvind Krishna.

“Quantum computing is becoming a reality and it will extend computation far beyond what is imaginable with today’s computers.”

You can take a 360-degree tour of the IBM Research Quantum computing lab at the T.J. Watson Research Center in Yorktown Heights, New York below:

Even though Intel CEO Brian Krzanich thinks that Moore’s Law is here to stay, IBM feels that it is “running out of steam” and that quantum computing is the only next logical step to ensure that processing technology advances at a breakneck pace in the future. Over the next decade IBM expects that quantum processors with 50 to 100 qubit nodes will could be up and running. IBM says that the TOP500 supercomputers ruling the roost today wouldn’t be able to touch the performance possible with a 50-qubit system.

IBM has its sights set on medical research fields for quantum computing — perhaps we could finally find a cure for cancer, which is currently a $1 billion “moonshot” that Vice President Joe Biden is spearheading. IBM also reckons that quantum computing could allow us to “completely safeguard cloud computing systems” which would be welcome news given how frequently today’s systems come under attack by hackers (or the FBI… or the NSA…).

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Closed dilution refrigerators that house the superconducting qubits (Image Source: IBM via flickr

Instead of operating in ones and zeros like typical computers, quantum computers can instead represent ones, zeros or both (at the same time) enabling them to perform many types of calculations with much greater speed. That speed, however, comes at the cost of extreme fragility. Quantum information must be safeguarded not only from heat, but also electromagnetic radiation — both of which can cause errors.

“It is a beautiful challenge to pursue the path to build the first universal quantum computer, but it requires us to change how we think about the world. Access to early quantum computing prototypes will be key in imagining and developing future applications,” added Dario Gil, VP, Science and Solutions at IBM Research. “If you want to understand what a true quantum computer will do for you and how it works, this is the place to do it. You won’t experience it anywhere else.”

If you’d like to take a stab at IBM Quantum Experience, you can sign up for an invitation by following this link