On the platform of the CES 2020 IBM, a behemoth caught the eye of the crowd. The big guy in this glass case is IBM’s quantum computer, Q System One, which, while seemingly old-fashioned in old movies, undoubtedly represents cutting-edge technology. Quantum computing is a long way off for non-industry people, but in reality, technology related to quantum mechanics, as well as quantum computers, is beginning to be adopted in more and more fields, such as healthcare, finance, cybersecurity, agriculture, and so on.
Picture from cnet
The arms race among mainstream players has been going on for more than a decade. IBM moved the computer directly to the CES site, no doubt building momentum, and it was reluctant to let the “number one player” of the quantum age fall by.
Out of the lab?
Major players in quantum computing are trying to get quantum computers out of the lab.
At CES last year, IBM announced the launch of Q System One, saying it was “the world’s first fully integrated universal quantum computing system designed for scientific and commercial use”, in fact, in 2017, ibm chose to open up the computer’s powerful computing power through cloud services.
This year, IBM officials said, more than 106,000 users from more than 160 countries and regions have experienced the power of quantum computers through the cloud over the past two and a half years, running a total of 6.7 million programs over the period.
IBM also describes the development of the Q System ecosystem, a partner in the online community, with recent additions including Argonne National Laboratory, CERN, ExxonMobil, Fermi Laboratory, and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.
On the downstream customer side, IBM demonstrated its partnership with Daimler at the CES site. Many electric car companies have been involved in the development of solid-state batteries, in order to find solid-state lithium batteries, the behavior of lithium-containing molecules modeling, this time needs a huge computing support, traditional computers need a lot of time to complete such operations, and quantum computers can be easily achieved.
This is just one of the applications, and in fact, IBM announced at CES that more than 100 organizations have used IBM’s quantum computing services so far, including aerospace, automotive, banking, finance, energy, insurance and electronics, with major customers including Delta Air Lines, Daimler, JPMorgan Chase, and Anson Insurance.
In addition, IBM says it has published more than 200 third-party research papers on the practical application of quantum computing.
Matthew Brisse, an analyst at Gartner, a research firm, says IBM’s progress proves that quantum computing is no longer just laboratory. Gartner’s report also shows that quantum computing will take five to ten years to mature, but by 2023, one-fifth of organizations(including businesses and governments) are expected to spend on quantum computing projects, up from less than 1 percent in 2018.
Google will also open its quantum computers in 2018 through cloud computing services, which government and academic researchers will use for free. Now the application ecology of quantum computing is still in the early stages of establishment, enterprises often have to “lose money and drink”.
The calculation has doubled again.
In addition to its customers, IBM has demonstrated the performance of its quantum computers, and its 28-bit computer, Raleigh, has achieved the goal of doubling quantum volume.
Quantum volume is a dedicated performance indicator proposed by IBM to measure the power of quantum computers, and unlike qubits, it is an indicator under the combined influence of measurement errors, device cross-communication, device connection and circuit compilation efficiency.
Simply quantum bit number, will lead to an increase in error rate, at this time, quantum volume is a more objective, more applicable indicators, enterprise users can easily compare the difference between the two quantum computer computing power through quantum volume.
IBM argues that if it wants to achieve “quantum superiority” at some point in the next decade, it will have to double its quantum volume every year. In 2018, IBM’s 20-bit computer achieved 8 quantum volumes, and then doubled it for the next two years, and IBM says Raleigh now has the highest quantum volume.
The higher the quantum volume, the better the ability of a quantum computer to solve complex problems in the real world, which is equivalent to a quantum computer’s “run points”. The law of doubling every year also makes quantum volume the “Moore’s Law” in quantum computing.
IBM is now increasingly promoting its quantum volume standards in public, which is understandable, and standard-setting is an important step in the early days of an industry. Whoever takes the lead in setting the standard will have a chance to have a stronger voice in the future.
Still, IBM’s approach to “quantum superiority” is conservative, saying only that it hopes to achieve that goal within the next decade.
Get up early, can’t catch the late set
In 1982, at a conference sponsored by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and IBM, Richard Feynman first proposed the concept of quantum computing, arguing that quantum computers could simulate other quantum systems, which is thought to be the first quantum computer idea.
Since then, technology companies have invested in quantum computing.
In 2016, IBM launched the IBM 6 Qubit Prototype, and in 2017, IBM announced the launch of 20 Qubit Quantum Computers through its official blog, and built a 50 Qubit Quantum Computer Principle prototype; 。
IBM’s investment in quantum computing is a step-by-step step, and in 2018, Harriet Green, Chairman and CEO of IBM Asia Pacific, said that quantum computing would become mainstream within five years, and IBM has invested $38 billion in this area.
However, on the recent hot topic, “Quantum Hegemony,” it was Google that stole the limelight.
In October 2019, Google officially published a paper on Nature that said its quantum computer had completed the calculation of a specific task in 200 seconds. Google has announced that it is the first to achieve “quantum superiority” after the world’s fastest supercomputer took 10,000 years to produce similar results, according to measurements from experiments.
IBM couldn’t see it, and immediately came forward to expose the short.
On the eve of the official publication of google’s paper, IBM researchers posted that Google’s experiment was flawed, and that the most conservative estimate of 10,000 years to complete was even suspected to be misleading; modern overcalculations take only two-and-a-half days or less to complete computing tasks, in other words, Google’s quantum supremacy doesn’t hold water.
But the paper was published, and Google CEO Sundar Picha responded, “The first plane in human history flew for only 12 seconds, with no practical value, but it proved that the plane can fly”, giving Google a certain lead in quantum computing.
The two styles are somewhat different, with IBM leading the way in applications and customers, and Google more in favor of technology, but in either direction, competition in quantum computing is becoming more intense.
In addition to IBM and Google, companies such as Intel, Microsoft and Amazon are mainstream players in quantum computing. In February last year, AWS launched a preview version of the quantum computing service Braket and established the AWS Quantum Computing Center and Quantum Solutions Lab; Subcomputing tools that enterprise users can use to enhance the computing power of traditional computers…
Quantum computing is still in its early stages, and the giants are now fighting not just for market share, but for the right to speak and even define the future in the field of quantum computing, which is bound to be a constant money-burning war with no short-term returns.