Over the last few weeks there have been several noteworthy items in the press relating to quantum computing:
First, it was hard to miss the video of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau explaining quantum computing. Most people seemed to appreciate a head of government being confident enough to discuss the topic in public, though not surprisingly there were critics taking issue with his explanation.
On April 19 the European Commision announced plans to invest over €1-billion (US$1.13 billion) in a variety of quantum technologies — from " secure communication networks to ultra-precise gravity sensors and clocks." This is an exciting development that will help build an ecosystem in the future, as we noted in our previous blog post.
Today IBM Research made news with the announcement of their plans to offer access to their 5-qubit processor. You can apply to try out the IBM processor at https://quantumexperience.ng.bluemix.net. While it's a good step forward for IBM’s program, IBM notes it will take decades or more for a gate model quantum computer product to develop into a useful product. Other organizations have produced quantum processors with a limited number of qubits like IBM’s five qubits, and in fact what IBM announced is similar to other research projects, such as the University of Bristol's "Quantum in the Cloud", announced several years ago.
Meanwhile D-Wave productized a 128 qubit processor in 2011, and today our third generation D-Wave 2X has over 1000 qubits. More significantly, we have also developed the other technology components needed to build a system, not just a research processor. Our focus on creating a quantum computer that uses quantum annealing was based on our desire to build and scale a system that could be used for some (while not all) important problems in the near term. That decision has been validated by Google's decision to invest in a quantum annealing program, IARPA's new Quantum Enhanced Optimization program, and the creation of several start-up companies beginning to develop software for the D-Wave system. Most importantly, our customers, Lockheed Martin / ISI, Google/NASA/USRA and the Los Alamos National Laboratory are using our systems at their facilities and other customers are using our systems over the Internet.
We're glad to see other organizations making progress in quantum computing technology, as well as the increased level of investment happening around the world. Quantum computing has the potential to solve some of the most critical problems we all face, and it will take the collective efforts of many people and organizations to meet the challenge.