Quantum computers are the future, says Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella. And he has put Microsofts money where his mouth is, making quantum computing one of the three pillars of Microsofts strategy going forward. Along with AI and mixed/augmented reality, its an area where Nadella believes that Microsoft can make a significant impact, and where it can differentiate itself from its competition.
But building a quantum computer is hard. Microsofts current progress is the result of more than 20 years of research investment, working with universities around the world, mixing pure physics with computer science, and turning experimental ideas into products. Theres a lot of ambition here, with the eventual aim of building scalable quantum computers that anyone can use.
Microsofts approach to quantum computing differs from the technologies used by companies like DWave, taking a new approach to creating the qubits, the quantum bits at the heart of the process. Working with university researchers, Microsoft has been exploring use of a new type of particle, the Majorana fermion. Initially proposed in the late 1930s, Marjorana particles have only recently been detected in semiconductor nanowires at very low temperatures.
Compared to other qubit approaches, the Majorana particles used by Microsofts quantum computers are more stable and have lower error rates, spreading out the electron state across a topological knot thats less likely to evaporate when its state is read. This topological approach to quantum computing is something that Nadella calls a transistor moment for quantum computers. It might not be the quantum processor, but its the first step on that road.
Working with a quantum computer is very different from the machines we use today. A bits 1s and 0s are replaced by a qubit with a statistical blur of fractionalized electrons that needs interpretation. With qubits temperatures at near absolute zero, another specialised low-temperature (cryogenic) computer is used to program the qubits and read results, working with quantum algorithms to solve complex problemsand promising nearly instantaneous answers to problems that could take thousands, or even millions, of years with a modern supercomputer.
You can think of the relationship between the cryogenic controller and programs running on the ultralow-temperature quantum computer as something akin to how deep-sea divers work on underwater oil rigs. The quantum computer is the well head, isolated from the rest of the world by temperature. That makes the cryogenic control computer the equivalent of a divers pressurized diving bell, giving the programs a stepping stone between the normal temperatures of the outside world and the extreme cold of the quantum refrigerator, much like how a diving bell prepares divers for working at extreme depths.
Microsofts quantum computers are unlikely to run in your own datacenters. They require specialized refrigerators to chill the qubits, which are built from carefully grown nanowires. Microsofts consortium of universities can manufacture each part separately, bringing them together to deliver the current generation of test systems.
Microsoft intends to embed its quantum hardware in Azure, running a quantum simulator to help test quantum code before its deployed to actual quantum computers. Microsoft is also working on a new language to help developers write quantum code in Visual Studio.
Microsoft Research has already delivered a first cut at a quantum programming environment in Liqui|> (usually referred to as Liquid), a set of tools to simulate a 30-qubit environment on a PC with 32GB of memory. Microsoft says youll be able to deploy large quantum simulators with more than 40 qubits in 16TB on Azure, though solving problems of that size will take a long time without the acceleration of a real quantum computer.
Still, with Liquid, you can experiment with key quantum computing concepts using F#, seeing how youll build algorithms to handle complex mathematical concepts, as well as understanding how to work with low-level error-correction algorithms.
Microsofts new quantum computing language will build on lessons learned with Liquid, but it wont be based on F#. The languages name hasnt been revealed yet, but amusingly some early screenshots of quantum code being edited in Visual Studio appeared to use the same file extension as the classic Quick Basic.
I recently spoke with Krysta Svore, the lead of Microsoft Research s Redmond Quantum computing group, which works on building the software side of Microsofts planned scalable quantum computer. Its a fascinating side of the project, taking the low-level quantum algorithms needed to work with experimental hardware and finding ways of generating them from familiar high-level languages. If Svores team is successful, you wont need to know about the quantum computer youre programming; instead, youll write code, publish it to Azure, and run it.
The goal is that youll be able to concentrate on your code, not think about the underlying quantum circuitry. For example, instead of building the connections needed to construct a quantum Fourier transform, youll call a QFT library, writing additional code to prepare, load, and read data. As Svore notes, many quantum algorithms are hybrids, mixing preprocessing and postprocessing with quantum actions, often using them as part of loops run in a classical supercomputer.
Theres also a role for AI techniques, using machine learning to identify elements of code, understanding where and how they work best.
Developers who experiment with Liquid will be able to bring their applications to the new platform, with migration tools to help with the transition. Using the Azure-based quantum simulator should help, because it supports many more qubits than a PC does. Itll also let you explore working with execution-based parallelism, where you run multiple passes over the same data, rather than the more familiar GPGPU data parallelism model.
You can get a feel for what this means for computing when you consider an 80-qubit operation. Svore notes that a single operation in a quantum computer takes 100ns, no matter how many qubits you have. The same operation in a classical computer would require more particles than in the visible universe, taking longer than the lifetime of the universe. Solving that type of problem in 100ns is a huge leap forward, one that opens new directions for scientific computing.
Microsofts quantum computing work is a big bet on the future of computing. Today, its a long way from every day use, still in the domain of pure research, even if that research is coming up with promising results.
Where Microsofts quantum-computing work really will make a difference is if it can deliver a programming environment that will let us take hard problems and turn them into quantum algorithms quickly and repeatedly, without having to go beyond the familiar world of IDEs and parallel programming constructs. Getting that right will really change the world, in ways we cant yet imagine.
Read the original post:
Inside Microsofts quantum computing world | InfoWorld
- Covid 19 Pandemic: Quantum Computing Technologies Market 2020, Share, Growth, Trends And Forecast To 2025 - 3rd Watch News - May 24th, 2020
- Molecular dynamics used to simulate 100 million atoms | Opinion - Chemistry World - May 23rd, 2020
- Highest-performing quantum simulator IN THE WORLD delivered to Japan - TechGeek - May 18th, 2020
- Light, fantastic: the path ahead for faster, smaller computer processors - News - The University of Sydney - May 18th, 2020
- Wiring the quantum computer of the future - Space Daily - April 29th, 2020
- Technologies That You Can Explore Other Than Data Science During Lockdown - Analytics India Magazine - April 29th, 2020
- Will Quantum Computing Really Change The World? Facts And Myths - Analytics India Magazine - April 23rd, 2020
- Google's top quantum computing brain may or may not have quit - Fudzilla - April 23rd, 2020
- On the Heels of a Light Beam - Scientific American - April 23rd, 2020
- Advanced Encryption Standard (AES): What It Is and How It Works - Hashed Out by The SSL Store - Hashed Out by The SSL Store - April 23rd, 2020
- Google's Head of Quantum Computing Hardware Resigns - WIRED - April 21st, 2020
- COVID-19: Quantum computing could someday find cures for coronaviruses and other diseases - TechRepublic - April 21st, 2020
- The future of quantum computing in the cloud - TechTarget - April 21st, 2020
- Quantum computer chips demonstrated at the highest temperatures ever - New Scientist News - April 17th, 2020
- Alex Garland on 'Devs,' free will and quantum computing - Engadget - April 14th, 2020
- RAND report finds that, like fusion power and Half Life 3, quantum computing is still 15 years away - The Register - April 12th, 2020
- Quantum computing: When to expect the next major leap - TechRepublic - April 12th, 2020
- Cambridge Quantum Computing Performs the World's First Quantum Natural Language Processing Experiment - Quantaneo, the Quantum Computing Source - April 12th, 2020
- The Well-matched Combo of Quantum Computing and Machine Learning - Analytics Insight - March 23rd, 2020
- Picking up the quantum technology baton - The Hindu - March 23rd, 2020
- Research by University of Chicago PhD Student and EPiQC Wins IBM Q Best Paper - HPCwire - March 23rd, 2020
- Honeywell Achieves Breakthrough That Will Enable The Worlds Most Powerful Quantum Computer #47655 - New Kerala - March 23rd, 2020
- Is time broken? Physicists filmed a quantum measurement but the 'moment' was blurry - The Next Web - March 5th, 2020
- What Is Quantum Computing? The Next Era of Computational ... - March 3rd, 2020
- Honeywell says it will soon launch the worlds most powerful quantum computer - TechCrunch - March 3rd, 2020
- Majority of Promising AI Startups Are Still Based in the US - Transport Topics Online - March 3rd, 2020
- 10 Revolutionary Technologies To Lookout For In 2020 - Fossbytes - March 3rd, 2020
- Quantum researchers able to split one photon into three - Space Daily - March 3rd, 2020
- Physicists Captured The Moment That An Atom Enters Quantum Measurement - Somag News - February 29th, 2020
- This Week's Awesome Tech Stories From Around the Web (Through February 29) - Singularity Hub - February 29th, 2020
- IC Breakthroughs: Energy Harvesting, Quantum Computing, and a 96-Core Processor in Six Chiplets - News - All About Circuits - February 29th, 2020
- Top 10 Strategic Technology Breakthroughs That Will Transform Our Lives - Analytics Insight - February 29th, 2020
- New Intel chip could accelerate the advent of quantum computing - RedShark News - February 28th, 2020
- Particle accelerator technology could solve one of the most vexing problems in building quantum computers - Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory - February 28th, 2020
- Top 10 breakthrough technologies of 2020 - TechRepublic - February 28th, 2020
- 21st ISQED Conference to Commence With Focus on Quantum Computing, Security, and AI/ML & Electronic Design - PRNewswire - February 25th, 2020
- NTT Research to Collaborate with UCLA and Georgetown on Cryptography and Blockchain - Yahoo Finance - February 25th, 2020
- Should decision makers be concerned by the threat of quantum? - Information Age - February 25th, 2020
- Keeping classified information secret in a world of quantum computing - Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists - February 11th, 2020
- A neural network that learned to predict the behavior of a quantum system - Tech Explorist - February 9th, 2020
- Deltec Bank, Bahamas A combination of Quantum Computing and Blockchain Technology Will Have a huge Impact on Banking - Press Release - Digital... - February 5th, 2020
- Could Photonic Chips Outpace the Fastest Supercomputers? - Singularity Hub - February 5th, 2020
- Google claims to have invented a quantum computer, but IBM begs to differ - The Conversation CA - January 22nd, 2020
- Xanadu Receives $4.4M Investment from SDTC to Advance its Photonic Quantum Computing Technology - Quantaneo, the Quantum Computing Source - January 22nd, 2020
- U of T's Peter Wittek, who will be remembered at Feb. 3 event, on why the future is quantum - News@UofT - January 17th, 2020
- Quantum Computing Technologies Market 2019, Size, Share, Global Industry Growth, Business Statistics, Top Leaders, Competitive Landscape, Forecast To... - January 17th, 2020
- This Week In Security: Windows 10 Apocalypse, Paypal Problems, And Cablehaunt - Hackaday - January 17th, 2020
- Kitchener's Angstrom Engineering is making a quantum leap with its next-generation technology - TheRecord.com - January 17th, 2020
- Xanadu Receives $4.4M Investment from SDTC to Advance its Photonic Quantum Computing Technology - Yahoo Finance - January 16th, 2020
- The dark side of IoT, AI and quantum computing: Hacking, data breaches and existential threat - ZDNet - January 16th, 2020
- 'How can we compete with Google?': the battle to train quantum coders - The Guardian - January 16th, 2020
- IBM heads US patent list for 27th consecutive year - Technology Decisions - January 16th, 2020
- New Technique May Be Capable of Creating Qubits From Silicon Carbide Wafer - Tom's Hardware - January 14th, 2020
- The hunt for the 'angel particle' continues - Big Think - January 13th, 2020
- How to verify that quantum chips are computing correctly - MIT News - January 13th, 2020
- Googles Quantum Supremacy will mark the End of the Bitcoin in 2020 - The Coin Republic - January 13th, 2020
- Bleeding edge information technology developments - IT World Canada - January 13th, 2020
- Jeffrey Epstein scandal: MIT professor put on leave, he 'failed to inform' college that sex offender made donations - CNBC - January 10th, 2020
- The teenager that's at CES to network - Yahoo Singapore News - January 10th, 2020
- AI, ML and quantum computing to cement position in 2020: Alibabas Jeff Zhang - Tech Observer - January 8th, 2020
- Perspective: End Of An Era | WNIJ and WNIU - WNIJ and WNIU - January 8th, 2020
- Volkswagen carried out the world's first pilot project for traffic optimization with a quantum computer - Quantaneo, the Quantum Computing Source - January 6th, 2020
- The 12 Most Important and Stunning Quantum Experiments of 2019 - Livescience.com - December 31st, 2019
- Physicists Just Achieved The First-Ever Quantum Teleportation Between Computer Chips - ScienceAlert - December 31st, 2019
- Quantum Supremacy and the Regulation of Quantum Technologies - The Regulatory Review - December 31st, 2019
- The Best of Science in 2019 - Research Matters - December 31st, 2019
- Technology And Society: Can Marketing Save The World? - Forbes - December 31st, 2019
- From the image of a black hole to 'artificial embryos', 2019 was the year of many firsts in science - Economic Times - December 28th, 2019
- Information teleported between two computer chips for the first time - New Atlas - December 26th, 2019
- Same Plastic That Make Legos Could Also Be The Best Thermal Insulators Used in Quantum Computers - KTLA Los Angeles - December 26th, 2019
- Quanta's Year in Math and Computer Science (2019) - Quanta Magazine - December 26th, 2019
- 2019 EurekAlert! Trending Release List the most international ever - Science Codex - December 26th, 2019
- The big science and environment stories of 2019 - BBC News - December 26th, 2019
- Could quantum computing be the key to cracking congestion? - SmartCitiesWorld - December 15th, 2019
- ProBeat: AWS and Azure are generating uneasy excitement in quantum computing - VentureBeat - December 15th, 2019
- Will quantum computing overwhelm existing security tech in the near future? - Help Net Security - December 15th, 2019
- Quantum expert Robert Sutor explains the basics of Quantum Computing - Packt Hub - December 15th, 2019
- Traditional cryptography doesn't stand a chance against the quantum age - Inverse - December 15th, 2019
- China is beating the US when it comes to quantum security - MIT Technology Review - December 15th, 2019
- Technology to Highlight the Next 10 Years: Quantum Computing - Somag News - December 15th, 2019