Commercial Quantum Computer?

Quantum computers could revolutionize the way we tackle problems that stump even the best classical computers.
Single atom transistor recently introduced has been seen as a tool that could lead the way to building a quantum computer. For general introduction how quantum computer work, read A tale of two qubits: how quantum computers work article.

D-Wave Announces Commercially Available Quantum Computer article tells that computing company D-Wave has announced that they’re selling a quantum computing system commercially, which they’re calling the D-Wave One. D-Wave system comes equipped with a 128-qubit processor that’s designed to perform discrete optimization operations. The processor uses quantum annealing to perform these operations.

D-Wave is advertisting a number of different applications for its quantum computing system, primarily in the field of artificial intelligence. According to the company, its system can handle virtually any AI application that can be translated to a Markov random field.

dwave

Learning to program the D-Wave One blog article tells that the processor in the D-Wave One – codenamed Rainier – is designed to perform a single mathematical operation called discrete optimization. It is a special purpose processor. When writing applications the D-Wave One is used only for the steps in your task that involve solving optimization problems. All the other parts of your code still run on your conventional systems of choice. Rainier solves optimization problems using quantum annealing (QA), which is a class of problem solving approaches that use quantum effects to help get better solutions, faster. Learning to program the D-Wave One is the first in a series of blog posts describing the algorithms we have run on D-Wave quantum computers, and how to use these to build interesting applications.

But is this the start of the quantum computers era? Maybe not. D-Wave Announces Commercially Available Quantum Computer article comments tell a story that this computer might not be the quantum computer you might be waiting for. It seem that the name “quantum computer” is a bit misleading for this product. There are serious controversies around the working and “quantumness” of the machine. D-Wave has been heavily criticized by some scientists in the quantum computing field. First sale for quantum computing article tells that uncertainty persists around how the impressive black monolith known as D-Wave One actually works. Computer scientists have long questioned whether D-Wave’s systems truly exploit quantum physics on their products.

Slashdot article D-Wave Announces Commercially Available Quantum Computer comments tell that this has the same central problem as before. D-Wave’s computers haven’t demonstrated that their commercial bits are entangled. There’s no way to really distinguish what they are doing from essentially classical simulated annealing. Recommended reading that is skeptical of D-Wave’s claims is much of what Scott Aaronson has wrote about them. See for example http://www.scottaaronson.com/blog/?p=639, http://www.scottaaronson.com/blog/?p=198 although interestingly after he visited D-Wave’s labs in person his views changed slightly and became slightly more sympathetic to them http://www.scottaaronson.com/blog/?p=954.

So it is hard to say if the “128 qubits” part is snake oil or for real. If the 128 “qubits” aren’t entangled at all, which means it is useless for any of the quantum algorithms that one generally thinks of. It seem that this device simply has 128 separate “qubits” that are queried individually, and is, essentially an augmented classical computer that gains a few minor advantages in some very specific algorithms (i.e. the quantum annealing algorithm) due to this qubit querying, but is otherwise indistinguishable from a really expensive classical computer for any other purpose. This has the same central problem as before: D-Wave’s computers haven’t demonstrated that their commercial bits are entangled.

Rather than constantly adding more qubits and issuing more hard-to-evaluate announcements, while leaving the scientific characterization of its devices in a state of limbo, why doesn’t D-Wave just focus all its efforts on demonstrating entanglement, or otherwise getting stronger evidence for a quantum role in the apparent speedup? There’s a reason why academic quantum computing groups focus on pushing down decoherence and demonstrating entanglement in 2, 3, or 4 qubits: because that way, at least you know that the qubits are qubits! Suppose D-Wave were marketing a classical, special-purpose, $10-million computer designed to perform simulated annealing, for 90-bit Ising spin glass problems with a certain fixed topology, somewhat better than an off-the-shelf computing cluster. Would there be even 5% of the public interest that there is now?

361 Comments

  1. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Q&A: Architect of New “Inspire”; Quantum-Computing Platform on Spin Qubits and Programming Quantum Chips
    https://spectrum.ieee.org/tech-talk/computing/hardware/quantum-inspire-launches

    Richard Versluis, the system architect, describes Europe’s first public-access quantum-computing platform

    Reply
  2. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Quantum computers vastly outperform supercomputers when it comes to energy efficiency
    https://physicsworld.com/a/quantum-computers-vastly-outperform-supercomputers-when-it-comes-to-energy-efficiency/

    Researchers in the US have created a new energy-based benchmark for quantum advantage and have used it to show that noisy intermediate-scale quantum (NISQ) computers use several orders of magnitude less energy than the world’s most powerful supercomputer when doing a specific task.

    Reply
  3. Tomi Engdahl says:

    VTT hankkii viiden kubitin kvanttitietokoneen
    https://www.uusiteknologia.fi/2020/05/12/vtt-hankkii-viiden-kubitin-kvanttitietokoneen/

    Teknologiakehittäjä VTT käynnistää ensimmäisen kvanttitietokoneen hankinnan. Uuden koneen suunnittelu ja rakennus toteutetaan innovaatiokumppanuutena. Ensimmäisen viiden kubitin koneen tavoitteena on kasvattaa kansallista kyvykkyyttä alueen suunnitteluun ja rakentamiseen sekä luoda osaamista tuleville sovellusalueille.

    Kvanttiteknologia tulee mullistamaan tulevaisuudessa useita teollisuuden aloja sekä synnyttämään uusia, kansallisesti merkittäviä liiketoiminta- ja tutkimusmahdollisuuksia jo lähivuosina. Se mahdollistaa suuren laskentatehon ja nykyisille supertietokoneille mahdottomien ongelmien ratkaisemisen.

    Suomalaisen kvanttitietokoneen kehittäminen ja rakentaminen toteutetaan innovaatiokumppanuutena, jonka VTT avaa myös kansainväliselle kilpailutukselle. Hanke tulee kestämään useampia vuosia ja sen kokonaiskustannuksiksi arvioidaan koko hankkeen ajalta noin 20-25 miljoonaa euroa.

    Espoossa lasketaan kubiteilla viiden vuoden kuluttua
    https://etn.fi/index.php/13-news/10758-espoossa-lasketaan-kubiteilla-viiden-vuoden-kuluttua

    VTT käynnistää Suomen ensimmäisen kvanttitietokoneen hankinnan. Suomen ensimmäinen kvanttilaskentaan kykenevä kone rakennetaan Otaniemeen, Micronovaan.

    Hanke on kolmivaiheinen. Ensimmäisen vaiheen tavoitteena on kasvattaa kansallista kyvykkyyttä kvanttitietokoneen suunnitteluun ja rakentamiseen ja luoda osaamispohjaa sen tuleville sovellusalueille. Kvanttitietokoneen suunnittelu ja rakennus toteutetaan innovaatiokumppanuutena.

    Suomalaisen kvanttitietokoneen kehittäminen ja rakentaminen toteutetaan innovaatiokumppanuutena, jonka VTT avaa kansainväliselle kilpailutukselle. Hanke tulee kestämään useampia vuosia ja sen kokonaiskustannuksiksi arvioidaan koko hankkeen ajalta noin 20-25 miljoonaa euroa.

    Hanke etenee vaiheittain, ja sen ensimmäisessä, noin vuoden kestävässä vaiheessa tavoitteena on saada toimintaan vähintään viiden kubitin kvanttitietokone. Kokonaistavoitteena on kuitenkin merkittävästi korkeampi kubittien määrä ja suurempi laskentateho.

    Hankkeen myötä VTT:n tavoitteena on olla maailman johtavia toimijoita kvanttiteknologioissa sekä niiden soveltamisessa.

    Reply
  4. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Army Researchers Advance Toward Quantum Computing at Room Temperature
    https://scitechdaily.com/army-researchers-advance-toward-quantum-computing-at-room-temperature/

    Army researchers predict quantum computer circuits that will no longer need extremely cold temperatures to function could become a reality after about a decade.

    For years, solid-state quantum technology that operates at room temperature seemed remote. While the application of transparent crystals with optical nonlinearities had emerged as the most likely route to this milestone, the plausibility of such a system always remained in question.

    Now, Army scientists have officially confirmed the validity of this approach.

    researchers can use the indeterminate state of whether or not a photon is in a crystal cavity to represent a qubit. The logic gates act on two qubits together, and can create “quantum entanglement” between them. This entanglement is automatically generated in a quantum computer, and is required for quantum approaches to applications in sensing.

    However, scientists based the idea to make quantum logic gates using nonlinear optical crystals entirely on speculation — up until this point. While it showed immense promise, doubts remained as to whether this method could even lead to practical logic gates.

    Once they designed the quantum logic gate, the researchers performed numerous computer simulations of the operation of the gate to demonstrate that it could, in theory, function appropriately.

    Reply
  5. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Microsoft’s quantum computing platform is now in limited preview
    https://tcrn.ch/3cMvzaS

    Microsoft today announced that Azure Quantum, its partner-centric quantum computing platform for developers who want to get started with quantum computing, is now in limited preview. First announced at Microsoft Ignite 2019, Azure Quantum brings together the hardware from IonQ, Honeywell, QCI and Microsoft, services from the likes of 1QBit, and the classical computing capabilities of the Azure cloud. With this move to being in limited preview, Microsoft is now opening the service up to a small number of select partners and customers.

    https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/services/quantum/

    Reply
  6. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Inside big tech’s high-stakes race for quantum supremacy
    https://www.wired.co.uk/article/quantum-supremacy-google-microsoft-ibm

    Quantum computers used to be an impossible dream. Now, after a decade of research by some of the world’s biggest tech companies, they’re on the verge of changing everything

    Reply
  7. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Counterintuitive Superconductivity and Quantum Computing Breakthrough: Using Pressure to Make Liquid Magnetism
    https://scitechdaily.com/counterintuitive-superconductivity-and-quantum-computing-breakthrough-using-pressure-to-make-liquid-magnetism/

    Using two flat-top diamonds and a lot of pressure, scientists have forced a magnetic crystal into a spin liquid state, which may lead to insights into high-temperature superconductivity and quantum computing

    Reply

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