On Monday, IBM announced that it is developing "IBM Q" products, commercially available quantum computing systems that can help solve problems that cannot be tackled by classical computers. In a press release, IBM noted that the IBM Q systems will be delivered to customers through the IBM Cloud platform.
Current IBM solutions, like its cognitive computing platform Watson, rely on traditional computers and can be used to help find patterns in data. However, much larger problems exist for which classical computer just won't cut it. And that's where quantum computing comes in.
Quantum computers are measured by their number of quantum bits, or qubits. IBM's current system is about five qubits, but the company is planning on building and deploying an IBM Q system with roughly 50 qubits in the next few years, the release said. For those keeping track, that's ten times more powerful than its current system.
One major application for quantum computing is in chemistry and medicine. For example, the release said, in caffeine the "quantum states in the molecule can be astoundingly large—so large that all the conventional computing memory and processing power scientists could ever build could not handle the problem."
The hope is that quantum computing would be able to help doctors and scientists better understand the relationship between molecules and potentially develop new medicines. The technology could also be applied to cloud security, financial services, AI, and logistics, the release said.
Along with the announcement of IBM Q, IBM also announced a new API for the IBM Quantum Experience that will let developers utilize the current five qubit system in their programs and applications. IBM launched the Quantum Experience in May 2016.
Additionally, as noted by the release, a new simulator is coming to the IBM Quantum Experience with the ability to model circuits up to 20 qubits. A full SDK is in the works for the IBM Quantum Experience and will be coming sometime in the first half of 2017.
"Following Watson and blockchain, we believe that quantum computing will provide the next powerful set of services delivered via the IBM Cloud platform, and promises to be the next major technology that has the potential to drive a new era of innovation across industries," Arvind Krishna, senior vice president of hybrid cloud and director for IBM Research, said in the release.
The 3 big takeaways for TechRepublic readers
- IBM announced its "IBM Q" quantum computing systems which could make systems with 50 qubits commercially available.
- IBM also announced a new API for the IBM Quantum Experience, allowing developers to more easily use its five qubit system for their programs and applications.
- The IBM Quantum Experience will also be getting a new simulation, capable of up to 20 qubits.
- IBM launches Watson Discovery Service for big data analytics at scale (TechRepublic)
- IBM aims to commercialize quantum computing, launches API, SDK and sees Q systems in next few years (ZDNet)
- IBM launches IBM Machine Learning cognitive platform for the private cloud (TechRepublic)
- IBM Research hooks up quantum processor to cloud for test drive (ZDNet)
- IBM offers the only cloud secure enough for the US Army (TechRepublic)
- Quantum computing: The smart person's guide (TechRepublic)
Conner Forrest has nothing to disclose. He doesn't hold investments in the technology companies he covers.
Conner Forrest is a Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He covers enterprise technology and is interested in the convergence of tech and culture.