Fujitsu has announced the launch of their Digital Annealer cloud service, which allows organizations to perform specific types of complex calculations commonly run on quantum computers, while not requiring the sizable upfront hardware investment for purchasing a quantum computer outright, according to a Tuesday press release.

Presently, Fujitsu’s Digital Annealer operates at 1,024 bits, which are able to express bonding power in 65,536 gradations, according to the release. Fujitsu’s solution utilizes traditional digital circuitry, which allows it to operate at room temperature without requiring helium-based cooling solutions, as well as making it more resistant to noise and environmental conditions impacting performance. Fujitsu is planning further upgrades that would expand the capabilities to 8,192 bits, as well as increase the precision from the current 16-bit model to 64-bit, the release noted.

Cloud access is available in Japan starting today. Fujitsu plans to make the service available in North America, Europe, and Asia during its fiscal year 2018. (As is typical of Japanese companies, the fiscal year starts and ends on April 1st.)

The company is also launching a consulting service to assist in application development for customers to utilize the hardware effectively, the release said. This is in addition to a partnership with 1QBit, a software vendor and consulting firm that helps organizations understand how to utilize quantum computers.

SEE: IT leader’s guide to the future of quantum computing (Tech Pro Research)

Pricing information is by individual estimate only, though the company is aiming to bring in 100 billion yen over the next five years for Digital Annealer cloud access and technical services.

Fujitsu markets the Digital Annealer as a “quantum inspired” computer, due to the limited use cases it is suited for, and the way in which it is built. The Digital Annealer is limited to performing quantum annealing tasks, which Fujitsu noted are helpful for various use cases, including “speeding up the search of similarities in molecules for drug discovery, optimizing portfolios in finance, personalizing advertisements in digital marketing, and optimizing the arrangement of warehoused components for factories and logistics,” the release said.

For comparison, the 2000Q, which is marketed as a quantum computer by D-Wave Systems, is only capable of performing quantum annealing calculations. Among other things, hardware offered by Fujitsu and D-Wave are unsuitable for integer factorization, which is required for cracking RSA encryption systems. The practical difference between the two systems relates to honesty in marketing–while D-Wave claims the 2000Q has 2000 qubits, Fujitsu does not claim that the links in the Digital Annealer are qubits. For comparison, Google’s experimental Bristlecone quantum processor is only 72 qubits, but is more of a “general purpose” system.

The big takeaways for tech leaders:

  • Fujitsu has debuted a cloud service for their new Digital Annealer system, allowing organizations to get started with quantum computing without an upfront hardware investment.
  • The system is limited to performing quantum annealing tasks, which are useful for pattern matching and complexity reduction use cases.