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?

1,065 Comments

  1. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Nilay Patel / The Verge:
    Q&A with IBM Quantum Director Jerry Chow on the state of quantum computing, IBM’s 10-year quantum roadmap, the IBM Quantum Heron processor, qubits, AI, and more

    IBM’s Jerry Chow on the future of quantum computing
    What’s a qubit? Are quantum computers useful yet? And how wrong was Ant-Man, anyway?
    https://www.theverge.com/23988271/ibm-quantum-heron-system-two-jerry-chow-qubits

    Reply
  2. Tomi Engdahl says:

    DARPA-Funded Research Leads to Quantum Computing Breakthrough
    Harvard-led team develops novel logical qubits to enable scalable quantum computers
    https://www.darpa.mil/news-events/2023-12-06

    Reply
  3. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Kvanttitietokoneessa jo tuhat kubittia – ”Sen teknologia törmää seinään
    Suomessa rakennetaan vasta 150-kubittista. Emme kuitenkaan ole jäljessä, kun kehitetään virheetöntä konetta, sanoo kvanttiteknologian professori.
    https://www.hs.fi/tiede/art-2000010041225.html

    Reply
  4. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Chinese SpinQ ships “undisclosed” superconducting Quantum Processing Units (QPUs) to the Middle East market, units are fully domestically manufactured
    News
    By Francisco Pires published December 13, 2023
    Claiming to be the first Chinese company to deliver quantum computing technology to China’s external market.
    https://www.tomshardware.com/tech-industry/quantum-computing/chinese-spinq-ships-undisclosed-superconducting-quantum-processing-units-qpus-to-the-middle-east-market-units-are-fully-domestically-manufactured

    Reply
  5. Tomi Engdahl says:

    LV-​reportaasi | Kaksi isää tapasi lasten sählypelissä Espoossa – syntyi yhtiö, joka kilpailee nyt kvanttitietokoneen kehittämisessä IBM:n kanssa
    https://www.lansivayla.fi/paikalliset/6396403

    Keilaniemessä kehitetään kvanttitietokonetta, jolla voi tulevaisuudessa merkittäviä turvallisuuspoliittisia vaikutuksia.

    Keilaniemen kellarissa puhisee kvanttitietokone aivan kuten tieteiselokuvissa, kun IQM:n perustajajäsen Juha Vartiainen avaa oven IQM:n laboratorioon.

    Lokakuussa IQM julkisti yhdessä VTT:n kanssa Suomen toisen kvanttitietokoneen ja nyt tekeillä on kolmas, tehokkaampi kone.

    Vuonna 2018 perustettu IQM kehittää Suomen valtion rahoittamana kansainvälisesti kilpailukykyisiä kvanttitietokoneita Espoossa.

    Reply
  6. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Quantum Computing’s Hard, Cold Reality Check Hype is everywhere, skeptics say, and practical applications are still far away
    https://spectrum.ieee.org/quantum-computing-skeptics

    Reply
  7. Tomi says:

    Sveitsiläistutkijat: kvanttitietokone voisi toimia huoneenlämmössä
    https://etn.fi/index.php/13-news/15794-sveitsilaeistutkijat-kvanttitietokone-voisi-toimia-huoneenlaemmoessae

    Suprajohtavuus on ilmiö, jossa materiaali menettää sähkövastuksensa kokonaan ja kykenee johtamaan sähkövirtaa ilman energiahäviöitä. Suprajohteet toimivat yleensä lähellä absoluuttista nollapistettä, mutta nyt sveitsiläistutkijat väittävät löytäneensä ensimmäisen havainnon suprajohtavuudesta huoneenlämpötilassa.

    Reply
  8. Tomi Engdahl says:

    World’s 1st fault-tolerant quantum computer launching this year ahead of a 10,000-qubit machine in 2026
    News
    By Keumars Afifi-Sabet published 2 days ago
    QuEra has dramatically reduced the error rate in qubits — with its first commercially available machine using this technology launching with 256 physical qubits and 10 logical qubits.
    https://www.livescience.com/technology/computing/worlds-1st-fault-tolerant-quantum-computer-coming-2024-10000-qubit-in-2026

    Reply

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