The battle for commercial quantum computing technology is heating up as International Business Machines Corp. (IBM) is piling pressure on tech giants Alphabet Inc.’s Google. Quantum computers have been identified as possessing the ability to solve rather difficult problems from tough fields like chemistry and material science. Those problems have been identified as currently ahead of what supercomputers can handle.
IBM whilst addressing journalists on Friday stated that it had successfully created a prototype 50 qubit quantum computer. Scientists believe that a machine of this size and specs is close to the threshold that would allow it to perform functions that the normal supercomputers can’t.
In the statement, the company mentioned that it, “aims to demonstrate capabilities beyond today’s classical systems”, and with the quantum of this size, they might be able to pull it off.
This announcement means that IBM is now in a very close competition with Google, who earlier stated that it is concluding plans to present a similar machine capable of achieving similar functions by the end of the year.
Currently, the quantum computers we have are rather too small and too error-prone to perform better than the normal supercomputers we have. The technology of quantum computers is growing at a fast rate and it is believed that it won’t be long before parity is achieved.
Tech companies like Google, Microsoft Corp., Canada’s D-Wave Systems Inc. and California-based startup Rigetti Computing are all trying extremely hard to come up with machines that would be very useful to businesses.
Commenting on the issue of quantum computers and their function prior to this news, Jonathan Breeze, a research fellow working on advanced materials at Imperial College London stated that the practical application of these computers will rely heavily on their ability to reduce the rate of error in their calculations.
He further stated that “There is much debate about how errors scale with the number of qubits,” acknowledging the fact that if the errors continue to increase a more qubits are, then the quantum computer wouldn’t live up to expectation. He added that “The exciting thing is that the technology is now developing at such a rapid rate that we should be able to answer that question soon.”
The battle to make the breakthrough in quantum computers amongst tech giants is all in a bid to win new customers.