Superfast quantum computers could be on the shelves in a shop near you soon.
IBM is pulling out all the stops to build viable commercial quantum computers and hopes to have them on the market ‘within a few years’.
Scientists want to step up the development of the quantum machines after a series of recent leaps forward in technology.
To aid the plan, IBM is also throwing open prototype machines to developers.
The main task, says IBM, is to work on quantum volume – the memory capacity of the new generation of computers.
“As a first step to increase Quantum Volume, IBM aims at constructing commercial IBM Q systems with ~50 qubits in the next few years to demonstrate capabilities beyond today’s classical systems,” said an IBM spokesman.
“IBM Q systems will be designed to tackle problems that are currently seen as too complex and exponential in nature for classical computing systems to handle.”
IBM is one of the companies at the forefront of quantum technology research.
The company has a quantum research facility in New York where 40,000 users have accessed a 5 qubit quantum system, triggering the publication of several research papers.
Quantum memory chips differ from conventional machines in the way the handle data. Quantum computers hold data in ‘qubits’. Qubits can store more data and process quicker because they can work in two states at the same time.
In binary machines, bytes are 1 or 0 – on or off – but in quantum machines they are on or off simultaneously.
Quantum computers are still a long way from commercial availability.
Cybersecurity company Temporal Defense Systems has recently paid $15 million for a 2,000 qubit computer. NASA and Google have also bought quantum computers.
Google reckons quantum software will go on sale within a decade.
“Short-term returns are possible with the small devices that will emerge within the next five years, even though these will lack full error correction,” Google researchers have announced.
“The field of quantum computing will soon achieve a historic milestone — quantum supremacy.”.
Quantum computers do not run apps like traditional home machines, but are developed to solve specific scientific problems by crunching huge pile of data in the fraction of time a n ordinary computer would take