IBM has developed a plan it hopes will put its technology at the forefront of quantum computing. Isabelle Bousquette reports for The Wall Street Journal:
International Business Machines Corp. announced Wednesday that it has created a more powerful quantum computing chip, the next step in its yearslong effort to build quantum machines capable of delivering business value to companies.
The 433-qubit Osprey chip, unveiled at IBM’s annual Quantum Summit in New York, has more than three times as many qubits as the 127-qubit Eagle chip it introduced last year.
But IBM is aiming to steadily build that computing power in the years ahead. The company said it plans to introduce a more than 4,000-qubit system in 2025, which would be able to solve some problems faster or more accurately than classical computers, as well as provide exact solutions to problems the best of today’s computers can only estimate, achieving a milestone known as “quantum advantage.”
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Dario Gil, senior vice president at IBM and director of IBM Research, said the company would continue scaling up from there, and ultimately quantum systems will contain millions of qubits.
“We’re getting closer and closer,” said Dr. Gil. “This is another step. Maybe there’s a couple more steps, but it’s getting closer.”
Today’s computers use binary digits, or bits, which can either be zeros or ones. Quantum computers use quantum bits, or qubits, which represent and store information in a quantum state that is a complex mix of zero and one. Machines capable of supporting this quantum state have the potential to sort through vast numbers of possibilities in nearly real time.
The types of problems quantum computers could one day tackle include simulating the behavior of natural materials in chemistry, and even breaking the public-key cryptography used to secure the internet, said Dr. Gil.
On Wednesday, IBM also announced a partnership with Vodafone Group PLC to investigate ways of using classical computing to defend against future quantum-enabled threats to encryption, and unveiled new software to help mitigate errors in quantum systems.
IBM isn’t the only company making big bets here. Microsoft Corp. , Alphabet Inc.’s Google, D-Wave Systems Inc. and others, as well as a generation of startups are all pushing forward in the area.
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