Microsoft is focusing on the development of quantum computers that take advantage of cryogenically cooled nanowires. (Microsoft Photo)
REDMOND, Wash. Quantum computing may still be in its infancy but the Microsoft Quantum Network is all grown up, fostered by in-house developers, research affiliates and future stars of the startup world.
The network made its official debut today here at Microsofts Redmond campus, during a Startup Summit that laid out the companys vision for quantum computing and introduced network partners to Microsofts tools of the quantum trade.
Quantum computing stands in contrast to the classical computer technologies that have held sway for more than a half-century. Classical computing is based on the ones and zeroes of bit-based processing, while quantum computing takes advantage of the weird effects of quantum physics. Quantum bits, or qubits, neednt represent a one or a zero, but can represent multiple states during computation.
The quantum approach should be able to solve computational problems that cant easily be solved using classical computers, such as modeling molecular interactions or optimizing large-scale systems. That could open the way to world-changing applications, said Todd Holmdahl, corporate vice president of Microsofts Azure Hardware Systems Group.
Were looking at problems like climate change, Holmdahl said. Were looking at solving big food production problems. We think we have opportunities to solve problems around materials science, personal health care, machine learning. All of these things are possible and obtainable with a quantum computer. We have been talking around here that were at the advent of the quantum economy.
Representatives from 16 startups were invited to this weeks Startup Summit, which features talks from Holmdahl and other leaders of Microsofts quantum team as well as demos and workshops focusing on Microsofts programming tools. (The closest startup to Seattle is 1QBit, based in Vancouver, B.C.)
Over the past year and a half, Microsoft has released a new quantum-friendly programming language called Q# (Q-sharp) as part of its Quantum Development Kit, and has worked with researchers at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and academic institutions around the world to lay the technical groundwork for the field.
A big part of that groundwork is the development ofa universal quantum computer, based on a topological architecture that builds error-correcting mechanisms right into the cryogenically cooled, nanowire-based hardware. Cutting down on the error-producing noise in quantum systems will be key to producing a workable computer.
We believe that our qubit equals about 1,000 of our competitions qubits, Holmdahl said.
Theres lots of competition in the quantum computing field nowadays: IBM, Google and Intel are all working on similar technologies for a universal quantum computer, while Canadas D-Wave Systems is taking advantage of a more limited type of computing technology known as quantum annealing.
This week, D-Wave previewed its plans for a new type of computer topology that it said would reduce quantum noise and more than double the qubit count of its existing platform, from 2,000 linked qubits to 5,000.
But the power of quantum computing shouldnt be measured merely by counting qubits. The efficiency of computation and the ability to reduce errors can make a big difference, said Microsoft principal researcher Matthias Troyer.
For example, a standard approach to simulating the molecular mechanism behind nitrogen fixation for crops could require 30,000 years of processing time, he said. But if the task is structured to enable parallel processing and enhanced error correction, the required runtime can be shrunk to less than two days.
Quantum software engineering is really as important as the hardware engineering, Troyer said.
Julie Love, director of Microsoft Quantum Business Development, said that Microsoft will start out offering quantum computing through Miicrosofts Azure cloud-based services. Not all computational problems are amenable to the quantum approach: Its much more likely that an application will switch between classical and quantum processing and therefore, between classical tools such as the C# programming language and quantum tools such as Q#.
When you work in chemistry and materials, all of these problems, you hit this known to be unsolvable problem, Love said. Quantum provides the possibility of a breakthrough.
Love shies away from giving a firm timetable for the emergence of specific applications but last year, Holmdahl predicted that commercial quantum computers would exist five years from now. (Check back in 2023 to see how the prediction panned out.)
The first applications could well focus on simulating molecular chemistry, with the aim of prototyping better pharmaceuticals, more efficient fertilizers, better batteries, more environmentally friendly chemicals for the oil and gas industry, and a new class of high-temperature superconductors. It might even be possible to address the climate change challenge by custom-designing materials that pull excess carbon dioxide out of the air.
Love said quantum computers would also be well-suited for addressing optimization problems, like figuring out how to make traffic flow better through Seattles urban core; and for reducing the training time required for AI modeling.
That list is going to continue to evolve, she said.
Whenever the subject quantum computing comes up, cryptography has to be mentioned as well. Its theoretically possible for a quantum computer to break the codes that currently protect all sorts of secure transactions, ranging from email encryption to banking protocols.
Love said those code-breaking applications are farther out than other likely applications, due to the huge amount of computation resources that would be required even for a quantum computer. Nevertheless, its not too early to be concerned. We have a pretty significant research thrust in whats called post-quantum crypto, she said.
Next-generation data security is one of the hot topics addressed $1.2 billion National Quantum Initiative that was approved by Congress and the White House last December. Love said Microsofts post-quantum crypto protocols have already gone through an initial round of vetting by the National Institute of Standards and Technology.
Weve been working at this in a really open way, she said.
Like every technology, quantum computing is sure to have a dark side as well as a bright side. But its reassuring to know that developers are thinking ahead about both sides.
Read this article:
Microsofts quantum computing network takes a giant leap ...
- Amazon is now offering quantum computing as a service with Braket for AWS - The Verge - December 2nd, 2019
- ColdQuanta's Latest Ultracold Technology Heads to the International Space Station - Business Wire - December 2nd, 2019
- Researchers Discover New Way to Split and Sum Photons with Silicon - UT News | The University of Texas at Austin - December 2nd, 2019
- Archer Materials invited to chair quantum computing session at London conference - Proactive Investors Australia - December 2nd, 2019
- Archer Materials to chair Quantum Computing session at London Quantum.Tech Conference in 2020 - Proactive Investors Australia - November 30th, 2019
- The Future of Computing could be Magnetic - Robert Lea - Medium - November 30th, 2019
- Innovate, and grow - Economic Times - November 30th, 2019
- Tech news: The quantum internet is on the way - IOL - November 22nd, 2019
- Device Puts Photons in the Fast Lane - Optics & Photonics News - November 22nd, 2019
- Race is on to build quantum-proof encryption - Financial Times - November 21st, 2019
- Atos partners with Zapata to deliver complete quantum computing solution to the enterprise - Quantaneo, the Quantum Computing Source - November 20th, 2019
- NTT offers researchers $1 million salaries in bid to lure top talent in cryptography, quantum computing - The Japan Times - November 20th, 2019
- Information overload: The promise and risk of quantum computing - Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists - November 17th, 2019
- D-Wave sticks with its approach to quantum computing - TechCrunch - November 17th, 2019
- The Quantum Computing Threat to American Security - The Wall Street Journal - November 17th, 2019
- Dell Technologies on democratising 5G and the future of quantum computing - ZDNet - November 17th, 2019
- How Serious Is the Threat of Quantum Computing to Crypto? - Finance Magnates - November 17th, 2019
- Superconducting quantum computing - Wikipedia - October 6th, 2019
- Quantum computing | MIT News - October 6th, 2019
- How Do Quantum Computers Work? - sciencealert.com - October 2nd, 2019
- What is Quantum Computing? - Definition from Techopedia - October 2nd, 2019
- How Quantum Computers Work | HowStuffWorks - September 5th, 2019
- Quantum computing could change everything, and IBM is ... - May 15th, 2019
- Quantum Computing - Intel - April 29th, 2019
- IBM expands universities in its quantum computing research ... - April 25th, 2019
- Quantum computing is a marathon not a sprint | VentureBeat - April 22nd, 2019
- The CIO's Guide to Quantum Computing - Smarter With Gartner - April 19th, 2019
- This Startup Just Raised $21 Million To Bring Quantum ... - April 18th, 2019
- What is Quantum Computing ? Top 18 Quantum Computing ... - April 6th, 2019
- The promise of quantum computing - businessinsider.com - March 27th, 2019
- Quantum computing is coming: Heres why we need to get our ... - March 23rd, 2019
- Quantum computing will break your encryption in a few ... - March 21st, 2019
- Microsoft has formed a coalition to promote quantum computing ... - March 19th, 2019
- Quantum computing for everyone | Michael Nielsen - March 12th, 2019
- Ask a Techspert: What is quantum computing? - blog.google - March 6th, 2019
- IBM hits quantum computing milestone, may see 'Quantum ... - March 6th, 2019
- Its Time You Learned About Quantum Computing | WIRED - March 6th, 2019
- When Will Quantum Computing Have Real Commercial Value ... - February 25th, 2019
- The Case Against Quantum Computing - IEEE Spectrum - February 22nd, 2019
- How Does Quantum Computing Work? - ExtremeTech - January 31st, 2019
- Quantum technology - Wikipedia - January 23rd, 2019
- CES 2019: IBM's Q System One Is the Rock Star Quantum ... - January 13th, 2019
- Quantum Computing | The MIT Press - January 11th, 2019
- IBM thinks outside of the lab, puts quantum computer in a box - January 11th, 2019
- IBM unveils its first commercial quantum computer - January 9th, 2019
- A new type of quantum computer has smashed every record ... - December 21st, 2018
- China bet big on quantum computing. Now the US races to ... - October 26th, 2018
- US takes first step toward a quantum computing workforce ... - September 17th, 2018
- China bet big on quantum computing. Now the ... - money.cnn.com - September 17th, 2018
- The reality of quantum computing could be just three years ... - September 12th, 2018
- The quantum computing race the US cant afford to lose - September 3rd, 2018
- Quantum Computing | USRA - August 30th, 2018
- What Is Quantum Computing? The Complete WIRED Guide | WIRED - August 22nd, 2018
- Quantum Computing Market Research Report- Forecast 2022 | MRFR - August 1st, 2018
- Two Quantum Computing Bills Are Coming To Congress - July 5th, 2018
- Senate bills would make quantum computing a priority - June 10th, 2018
- What is quantum computing? - Definition from WhatIs.com - February 5th, 2018
- The Era of Quantum Computing Is Here. Outlook: Cloudy ... - January 26th, 2018
- IBM puts its quantum computer to work in relaxing, nerdy ASMR ... - January 8th, 2018
- Quantum computing is going to change the world. Here's what ... - January 8th, 2018
- Is Quantum Computing an Existential Threat to Blockchain ... - December 25th, 2017
- What is Quantum Computing? | SAP News Center - December 23rd, 2017
- Quantum Computing Explained | What is Quantum Computing? - December 21st, 2017
- New silicon structure opens the gate to quantum computers - December 14th, 2017
- Microsoft offers developers a preview of its quantum ... - December 12th, 2017
- Quantum Computing Is the Next Big Security Risk | WIRED - December 8th, 2017
- Yale Professors Race Google and IBM to the First Quantum ... - November 16th, 2017
- IBM's processor pushes quantum computing ... - engadget.com - November 16th, 2017
- Quantum computing - news.microsoft.com - November 1st, 2017
- Intel Takes First Steps To Universal Quantum Computing - October 13th, 2017
- Qudits: The Real Future of Quantum Computing? - IEEE Spectrum - October 13th, 2017
- quantum computing - engadget.com - October 13th, 2017
- Quantum Computing | Intel Newsroom - October 13th, 2017
- What will you actually use quantum computing for? | ZDNet - October 11th, 2017
- Here's what quantum computing is and why it matters - October 6th, 2017
- Microsoft just upped its multi-million bet on quantum computing - ZDNet - September 7th, 2017
- Microsoft's Aussie quantum computing lab set to scale up next-gen ... - ARNnet - September 7th, 2017
- An Entirely New Type of Quantum Computing Has Just Been Invented - Futurism - September 7th, 2017
- Quantum computing event explores the implications for business - Cambridge Network - August 30th, 2017
- Quantum Computing Is Coming at Us Fast, So Here's Everything You Need to Know - ScienceAlert - August 27th, 2017