IBM thinks outside of the lab, puts quantum computer in a box

IBM unveiled the worlds first universal approximate quantum computing systeminstalled outside of a research lab at CES earlier this week and with it, the next era of computing.

The 20-qubit IBM Q System One represents the first major leap for quantum computers of 2019, but before we get into the technical stufflets take a look at this thing.

All we can say is: wowzah! When can we get a review unit?

The commitment to a fully-functional yet aesthetically pleasing design is intriguing. Especially considering that, just last year, pundits claimedquantum computing was adead-end technology.

To make the first integrated quantum computer designed for commercial use outside of a lab both beautiful and functional, IBM enlisted the aid of Goppion, the company responsible for some of the worlds most famous museum-quality display cases, Universal Design Studio and Map Project Office. The result is not only (arguably) a scientific first, but a stunning machine to look at.

Credit: IBM

This isnt just about looks. That box represents a giant leap in the field.

Its hard to overstate the importance of bringing quantum computers outside of laboratories. Some of the biggest obstacles to universal quantum computing have been engineering-related. It isnt easy to manipulate the fabric of the universe or, at a minimum, observe it and the machines that attempt it typically require massive infrastructure.

In order to decouple a quantum system from its laboratory lifeline, IBM had to figure out how to conduct super-cooling (necessary for quantum computation under the current paradigm) in a box. This was accomplished through painstakingly developed cryogenic engineering.

Those familiar with the companys history might recall that, back in the 1940s, IBMs classical computers took up an entire room. Eventually, those systems started shrinking. Now they fit on your wrist and have more computational power than all the computers from the mainframe era put together.

It sure looks like history is repeating itself:

TNW asked Bob Wisnieff, IBMs Quantum Computing CTO, if todays progress reminded him of that transition. He told us:

In some respects, quantum computing systems are at a similar stage as the mainframes of the 1960s. The big difference is the cloud access, in a couple of ways:

Imagine if everyone in the 60s had five to ten years to explore the mainframes hardware and programming when it was essentially still a prototype. Thats where we are with quantum computing.

And now, in the IBM Q System One, we have a quantum system that is stable, reliable, and continuously available for commercial use in an IBM Cloud datacenter.

The IBM Q System One isnt the most powerful quantum computer out there. Its not even IBMs most powerful. But its the first one that could, technically, be installed on-site for a commercial customer. It wont be, however. At least not for the time being.

Instead, it can be accessed via the cloud as part of the companys quantum computing Q initiative.

For more information about IBMs Q System One visit the official website here. And dont forget to check out TNWs beginners guide to quantum computers.

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IBM thinks outside of the lab, puts quantum computer in a box

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