Since last year, IBM has been offering quantum computing as a cloud service. The first version released was a 5 qubit version, however today the company announced a 20 qubit version. In just 18 months IBM achieved such a large leap, this may spell a unique direction for the future of technology.
IBM’s next prototype is a 50 qubit version, thus far however it is uncertain when this will become commercially available.
The early versions of quantum computing cloud service by IBM were made free to build a community of users, while educating them on the technology and help integrate this new form of technology to everyone. The release of the 20 qubit is the first commercial offering announcement. The 20 qubit version will be available by the end of the year!
So what is quantum computing? Normally, computers run on a system of one’s and zero’s, and perform in an on/off state. Quantum computing is much more fluid, and can live in multiple states. This different form of functioning can easily give rise to new forms of functionalities and and software.
The IBM research team says that the increased qubits is only part of the story. They stated that the more qubits there are, the more complex the interactions become due to how they interact with each other and a process called entanglement. Entanglement is an error that occurs at higher qubit values, so for example a 5 qubit setup has a low entanglement occurence in comparison to a 20 qubit version. IBM has figured out how to actually reverse that in a way, by making the 20 qubit version have an error occurrence as low as if not lower than the 5 qubit version. This allows IBM to solve more problems faster, propelling themselves further and faster.
Another challenge when working with qubit and quantum computing is that the quantum state has a short life span before reverting to the standard one and zero’s computing state. This regression is a process that arrives after ‘coherence’ expires. Basically it means there is a short period of quantum functionality before the quantum drops and basic computing is reapplied.
These challenges make it difficult for programmers to build any kind of quantum algorithm because the software doesn’t last long enough for it to work anything out. This has created a very ambitious challenge for the research team. Their goal is to create a quantum computing system that is self fixing, correcting any errors that occurs within itself and has unlimited coherence, never reverting back to standard computing performance.
Quantum computing can replace all services that involve computing and technology we use today, be it in hospitals, colleges, government, you name it! IBM wont stop progressing along the long drawn stepping stones until quantum computing reaches the state of perfection and total coherence.