IBM announces new advanced quantum computers

IBM says it’s reached milestone in quantum computing.

IBM has announced hitting a big milestone in the ongoing race of building the most powerful quantum computer.

Dario Gil, who leads IBM’s quantum computing and artificial intelligence research division, said last week that the company’s scientists have successfully built and measured a processor prototype with 50 quantum bits, known as qubits. Gil says it’s the first time any company has built a quantum computer at this scale. He also announced building a computer that uses 20 qubits.

“Our 20-qubit machine has double the coherence time, at an average of 90 µs, compared to previous generations of quantum processors with an average of 50 µs. It is also designed to scale; the 50-qubit prototype has similar performance,” he wrote in a blog post.

“Our goal with both the IBM Q experience, and our commercial program is to collaborate with our extended community of partners to accelerate the path to demonstrating a quantum advantage for solving real problems that matter.”

IBM’s big feat comes shortly after Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella disclosed the plans to explore the field of quantum computing. He said that the newer form of computing will help lead to big shifts in the future. Quantum computing will help build superior mixed reality and artificial intelligence (AI) technologies.

“We celebrate so much about technological progress. But, there are some of the harder challenges that haven’t been solved yet. For example, enzyme involved in food products cannot be modeled. A classical computer will be unable to do it, but with a quantum computer you can solve it,” Nadella had said at an event in Delhi last week.

Quantum computing, a technology that’s still in its early phases, uses the quirks of quantum physics to perform calculations at far higher speeds than current computers.

Seth Lloyd, an MIT mechanical engineering professor not involved in IBM’s research, says it’s likely that IBM still has glitches to work out but the 50-qubit announcement is a sign of significant progress.


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