skip to main content
Close Icon We use cookies to improve your website experience.  To learn about our use of cookies and how you can manage your cookie settings, please see our Cookie Policy.  By continuing to use the website, you consent to our use of cookies.
Global Search Configuration

Ovum view

Summary

In what must be a world first, IBM has made a five-qubit long quantum processor available to the public to experiment with on its Bluemix cloud. A true universal quantum computer is seen as technology that is some years away, perhaps decades, from being realizable. The science and engineering behind quantum computers is being intensively researched, and to offer new computing horizons not possible with conventional von Neumann-architecture computers, the number of qubits available need to be in the many thousands. However, as an educational tool this real (in contrast with simulated) quantum processor is a breakthrough that will attract educators worldwide.

A glimpse into the challenges of quantum computing

The announcement by IBM has excited the academic community as well as all those interested in quantum computing as an opportunity to give students first-hand experience of a real quantum processor, something which until now has only been available to a select few researchers.

The facility is available through the IBM Quantum Experience, and although it runs on Bluemix, anyone can access it without needing a Bluemix subscription. Because there is only one actual processor currently connected, housed in a dilution refrigerator in IBM’s Yorktown Heights Research lab, there is a queueing system to try it out. Users are given an environment to compose algorithms that will run on the five qubits, test the algorithms on a simulator, and then run them on the real processor, taking about 15 to 30 seconds to run. Effects such as noise will be visible and will demonstrate the challenges that need to be overcome.

The qubits are in a superconducting environment, and are patterned with standard lithographic techniques on silicon wafers. The quantum state is held in a Josephson-junction oscillator circuit, and the states of the qubits are the lowest two energy levels of the circuit. IBM has published papers on the technology (available online through the Cornell University Library).

The three levels of quantum computing capability

Jerry Chow, IBM’s manager for the Experimental Quantum Computing research, has described three levels of quantum capability: quantum annealer, analog quantum, and universal quantum. IBM believes the first level is represented by D-Wave’s quantum machine, also described as an adiabatic quantum computer. The second level is IBM’s current research focus, with the ability to simulate complex quantum interactions, using between 50 and 100 real quantum qubits, and its ultimate goal is to produce level three, a fully functioning universal quantum computer running 100,000 physical qubits.

Quantum computers will offer new forms of computation, as well as accelerate certain classes of calculations that take a very long time on conventional computers. Popular public key cryptographic systems rely on the inordinate length of time taken to factorize large integers, and quantum computers could make these systems obsolete, although they will offer new quantum cryptographic systems.

Appendix

Author

Michael Azoff, Principal Analyst, IT Infrastructure Solutions

michael.azoff@ovum.com

Recommended Articles

  • Consumer & Entertainment Services

    US pay TV: Is it facing an existential threat?

    By Adam Thomas 28 Mar 2018

    With US pay TV having endured the worst year in its history, thoughts have inevitably turned to the future. The likelihood remains that the immediate future will remain highly uncomfortable for everyone except the scaled multinational digital platforms.

  • Enterprise Decision Maker, Enterprise IT Strategy and Select...

    2017 Trends to Watch: Big Data

    By Tony Baer 21 Nov 2016

    The breakout use case for big data will be fast data. The Internet of Things (IoT) is increasing the urgency for enterprises to embrace real-time streaming analytics, as use cases from mobile devices and sensors become compelling to a wide range of industry sectors.

    Topics Big data and analytics IoT

  • Enterprise Services

    5G: Another technology in search of enterprise use cases

    By Evan Kirchheimer 26 Apr 2018

    Service provider interest in justifying 5G investment through its potential to open new revenue streams from the enterprise segment is growing ever greater.

;

Have any questions? Speak to a Specialist

Europe, Middle East & Africa team - +44 (0) 207 017 7700


Asia-Pacific team - +61 (0)3 960 16700

US team - +1 646 957 8878

Email us at ClientServices@ovum.com

You can also contact your named/allocated Client Services Executive using their direct dial.
PR enquiries - Call us at +44 788 597 5160 or email us at pr@ovum.com

Contact marketing - 
marketingdepartment@ovum.com

Already an Ovum client? Login to the Knowledge Center now