Hear from the CIO, CTO and other C-level and senior executives on data and AI strategies at the Future of Work Summit on January 12, 2022. Learn more
Recent advances in quantum computing have shown progress, but not enough to live up to hyperball over the years. An emerging perspective suggests that the much-hyped search for more quantum qubits and the quantum supremacy we now have may be overshadowed by a more sensible search for the practical use of qubits.
The latter scenario is particularly true of D-Wave Systems Inc., a Vancouver, BC, Canada-based quantum computing pioneer who recently unveiled his roadmap for working on logic gate-model quantum computing systems.
The embrace of D-Wave doors is remarkable. To date, the company has focused solely on quantum annealing processors. Using this potential approach, it has achieved the calculations of a superconducting qubit processor that it claims to outperform most others. Its latest Advantage system has 5,000 qubits. That is far ahead of the 127-quit device IBM reported in November.
An important caveat, as followers of the quantum business know. D-Wave’s analyzing quabits do not have the general quantum qualities of a competitive quantum gate-model system, and the degree of processing speed-up they provide has been questioned.
Questions are being raised about Google, NASA, Los Alamos National Laboratory and other research laboratories. D-Wave’s qubit calculations are flawed by critics for specializing in a purpose-built approach to a specific class of optimization problems.
Bring on NISQ
Nevertheless, the company has outperformed most competitors at least since 2011, compared to most competitors with forged and programmed superconducting parts.
For that matter, the benchmarks of the gate-model quantum computing crew have also come under attack, and the battle with its scaling and quantum error (or “voice”) correction has given rise to the term “noisy intermediate-scale quantum” (or “NISQ”). )) To describe the current era, where users have to start doing what they can with whatever functional quits they have.
While it will continue to work on its annealing-specific quantum diversity, D-Wave is engaged in a gate-model quantum competition where there appears to be plenty of room for growth. According to Statistics, global quantum computing revenue was estimated at $ 412 million in 2020, but is projected to reach $ 8.6 billion in 2027.
Bread, butter and quantum computing
As it moves to expand its product mix, D-Wave also hopes to increase its current system sales and availability. News of its roadmap was followed by the word NEC Corp. D-Wave’s Leap will be the first global reseller of quantum cloud service. D-Wave has also launched the Quantum Quickstart Kit, which echoes competitors’ efforts to open up daily quantum programming to Python developers through the cloud.
“The original decision on quantum annealing proved itself,” said Mark Johnson, vice president of quantum technology and systems products at D-Wave. While discussing D-Wave’s new roadmap with Venture Beat, he mentioned the use of D-Wave system in solving optimization scheduling and routing problems.
Johnson said that after working on a superconducting circuit at defense contractor TRW (now part of Northrop Grumen), quantum annealing was a viable factor in joining the company in the early 2000s.
“Today, it is the most effective form of quantum technology to solve problems. The natural error for quantum annealing is tolerance, “he said. However, competitive gate-level advances continue.
“We are now learning, over the last three or four years, from a growing group of published theoretical work, that it is unlikely that quantum annealing will always be better than gate models in optimization problems,” Johnson said.
That said, error correction is clearly a concern. But, Johnson suggests, this is a good time to start looking for solutions as an industry. “We will all work together to find a way forward,” he said. That is, while still following the annealing advances.
“Our bread and butter will continue to be quantum annealing, but we are adding another product line,” he said. Also working on Quantum-Classical Hybrid Solutions for D-Wave Optimization, he noted, to combine classical enterprise computing with quantum resources.
The accelerator fills the gap
According to Bob Sorensen, senior vice president of Hyperion Research and chief analyst at Quantum Computing, D-Wave’s expansion to include gate models is a natural progression for a company that has “cut its teeth on annealing architecture.”
“The company has great expertise in creating cryogenically cooled technology that can be used for quantum computing applications,” he said. “In the transition to gate-model architecture – although it’s not trivial – they bring a lot smarter to the table.”
At the same time, it’s important to look at the ongoing movement that sees quantum processing as part of established computing stacks, Sorensen said. It is not inappropriate to call this a hybrid approach, he said.
“Parts of the job can be done on one system, go to another and then come together – repeating between the classical and quantum systems to take advantage of the performance capabilities of both,” Sorensen said.
Presumably, he said, quantum computing would provide benefits for the workload in certain applications. As such, in hybrid quantum-classical combos, quantum processors are similar to GPUs in the assumed role for AI in datacenters; That is: as an auxiliary processor.
“Think of it as an accelerator for a certain advanced computing workload,” he said.
Effective handling of workload is more important than reaching the 1,000 qubit gate-model level or proving quantum supremacy versus classical computing. Instead, what matters to vendors is “the fact that you can effectively solve end-user problems,” Sorensen said.
VentureBeat’s mission is to become a digital town square for technical decision makers to gain knowledge about transformative technology and practices. Our site delivers essential information on data technologies and strategies so you can lead your organizations. We invite you to access, to become a member of our community:
- Up-to-date information on topics of interest to you
- Our newsletters
- Gated idea-leader content and discounted access to our precious events, such as Transform 2021: Learn more
- Networking features and more
Become a member