Bill Reichert, Partner, Pegasus Tech Ventures
For roughly 75 years, the fundamental architecture of computers has not changed much. Certainly, the hardware has changed tremendously, and software has evolved accordingly. But the basic idea of storing instructions and data in binary code, and using on/off digital hardware to execute mathematical and logical operations, has remained roughly the same for decades.
All that is changing.
The same advances in semiconductor fabrication technology that powered Moores Lawthe exponential increase in the power of computers over the last several decadeshave enabled hardware engineers to develop new architectures that promise to transform the computing landscape over the coming decades.
At the same time, software engineering is also progressing. Marc Andreessen has famously said, Software is eating the world. What he did not make clear, though, is that virtually all the progress in computing over the past 30 years has been thanks to hardware, not software.
New architectures, however,require that both software engineers and hardware engineers work together. A new class of hardware is emerging that takes advantage of what is called heterogeneous computing, multi-core chips that incorporate multiple different co-processors on the chip that are optimized for specialized tasks. Writing software that takes full advantage of these new chips is extremely challenging, and so companies like SambaNova Systems are developing operating systems and software compilers that optimize the application code automatically and allocate resources to compute tasks dynamically in real-time as computing demands change.
With the emergence of deep neural network software, engineers realized that Graphics Processing Units, an architecture commercialized by Nvidia, were nicely designed for doing the massive matrix calculations required by neural network models. But GPUs are not exactly optimized for AI, and so there has been an explosion of startups seeking to develop chips that offer 10x or 100x the performance and power efficiency of GPUs. On the server side, companies like Cerebras Systems and Graphcore, and more recently SambaNova, are promising order of magnitude improvements. And on the edge, companies like Gyrfalcon Technology, Syntiant, and Blaize are promising even greater improvements inperformance and power efficiency.
Virtually all the progress in computing over the past 30 years has been thanks to hardware, not software
The second half of the 20th century was all about moving computing from centralized mainframe computers to desktop and laptop distributed computers. With the development of a high-speed Internet, the thinking shifted, and an application could sit in the cloud and support thousands, even millions, of users. But as the Internet of Things took off and enabled data collection from literally billions of devices, moving all that data up to the cloud in order to crunch it has become a challenge. Now companies are looking to process data at the edge, at the point of collection, rather than sending it up to the cloud, thereby reducing latency and cutting bandwidth and storage costs. At its simplest level, edge computing filters out unimportant data and sends only the most important data to the cloud. For more complex tasks, such as autonomous driving, edge computing requires processing massive AI models and making very accurate judgments in milliseconds. For these tasks, the new special-purpose chips discussed above and below are fighting for design wins.
As brilliant as binary code is for enabling absolutely precise calculations, the real world is analog, not digital, and many compute tasks could be done more efficiently if we could operate with analog values rather than having to digitize them. But analog computing is imprecise, and most computing problems require exact values, not approximate values. (How much money do you have in your bank account?) Some problems, like AI inference and monitoring sensor data, do not need six sigma precision to get the right answer or make the right decision. Companies like Mythic, Analog Inference, and Aspinity are incorporating analog computing architectures into their chips to make them up to 100x more efficient solving problems involving data from our analog world.
Light has been used for digital communications and computer networks for decades, but using photons to do the math and putting photonic processors on a chip are extremely challenging. That is what several startups are trying to do. Spinning technologies out of MIT and Princeton, three companies, Lightelligence, Lightmatter, and Luminous Computing, are racing to commercialize the first photonic chip for doing AI inference at the edge.
In spite of what the media portrays as the imminent cyber-apocalypse where robots rebel against their human masters and take over the world, we are a long way away from the science fiction world imagined in popular culture. The fact is that the human brain is still massively more powerful and efficient than the most powerful supercomputers on earth. But computer scientists think there is a path to create an artificial brain. The branch of artificial intelligence that uses neural network mathematical frameworks to compute information in a manner similar to the human brain is sometimes referred to as neuromorphic, because it mimics human neuro-biology. But researchers have been working on models that even more closely mimic the human brain in its design and efficiency. The brain sends signals as electrochemical spikes, not digital bytes, and the brains roughly 86 billion neurons are interconnected in a way that is very different from transistors on a chip. Researchers at Stanford, Intel, IBM, and several startup companies, such as Rain Neuromorphics and BrainChip, are trying to develop hardware and software that uses neuromorphic principles to deliver very high-power computing on very small semiconductor chips.
Almost certainly the most radical initiative in computing is the attempt to harness the potential of quantum computing. At the subatomic level, particles of matter behave in extraordinary and wonderful ways they can exist in more than one state simultaneously, and they can entangle with one another across a distance without any apparent physical connection. It turns out that electronic devices like transistors and diodes wouldnt even work if the universe were strictly Newtonian. If we can figure out how to control the quantum properties of light and matter the way we figured out how to use gears to make adding machines and transistors to make computers, we will be able to make quantum computers that are as superior to current supercomputers as supercomputers are to adding machines.
Some people say we are still a long way away from quantum supremacy, when quantum computers can solve problems that no classical computer can solve. But recent advances indicate that we may not be that far away from quantum advantage, when quantum computers can solve certain specialized problems faster than classical computers.
Already big players like IBM, Google, Intel, Honeywell, and Microsoft are demonstrating machines that can execute quantum algorithms and startups like Rigetti Computing,IonQ, and PsiQuantum are joining the race, along with quantum software companies like QC Ware, Cambridge Quantum Computing, and Zapata Computing. Big corporations and governments are investing in projects that will take advantage of the power of quantum computing in chemistry, pharmaceuticals, finance, logistics, failure analysis, and artificial intelligence.
Each of these emerging technologies promises to significantly advance computing, and with these advances will come new technology leaders. The evolution of computing has given rise to multiple generations of spectacular success stories like IBM, Intel, Microsoft, Nvidia, Google, and Amazon Web Services. Most of these companies are trying to reinvent themselves to catch the next wave of computing technology, but certainly new companies will emerge in these new sectors, and some famous names will founder and go the way of the dinosaurs, like Univac, Digital Equipment, MIPS, and Silicon Graphics. Meanwhile, corporate CIOs will have to decide where to place their bets and start investing in these new technologies, if they havent already.
- Clearing the way toward robust quantum computing - MIT News - June 16th, 2021
- Heres How Quantum Computers Will Really Affect Cryptocurrencies - Forbes - June 16th, 2021
- New quantum computing company will set the pace - Cambridge Network - June 16th, 2021
- Honeywell joins hands with Cambridge Quantum Computing to form a new company - The Hindu - June 16th, 2021
- NSWCDD Focuses on Quantum Computing with its First-Ever Hackathon - Naval Sea Systems Command - June 16th, 2021
- Trinity College teams up with Microsoft on quantum computing programme - The Irish Times - June 16th, 2021
- Honeywell Quantum, Cambridge Quantum Computing form joint venture - Reuters - June 8th, 2021
- With cyberattacks on the rise, organizations are already bracing for devastating quantum hacks - CNBC - June 8th, 2021
- Swedish university is behind quantum computing breakthrough - ComputerWeekly.com - June 8th, 2021
- Global Quantum Computing Market to Gain $667.3 Million and Surge at a CAGR of 30.0% from 2020-2027 Timeframe - Exclusive [193 pages] COVID-19 Impact... - June 8th, 2021
- The 'second quantum revolution' is almost here. We need to make sure it benefits the many, not the few - The Conversation AU - June 8th, 2021
- UK govt and IBM together to build 210M AI & quantum computing centre in Daresbury - UKTN (UK Technology News - June 8th, 2021
- Archer Materials "one of the front-runners" in the quantum computing economy - Proactive Investors Australia - June 8th, 2021
- Quantum Computing & Technologies Market Share at a CAGR of 32.5 %, Trends, Growth, Sales, Demand, Revenue, Size, Forecast and COVID-19 Impacts... - June 8th, 2021
- Bristol startup scores 3.1M to control next-gen quantum hacks threatening the future of internet - UKTN (UK Technology News - June 8th, 2021
- How Will Federal Investment in Quantum Affect Local Gov? - Governing - June 8th, 2021
- STFC and IBM sign 210m AI and quantum computing deal - BusinessCloud - June 8th, 2021
- $100 Million to Advance Duke Science and Technology Research - Duke Today - June 8th, 2021
- Jlich, University of Wrzburg Investigating Innovations for Quantum Computing with Topological Insulators - HPCwire - June 2nd, 2021
- Quantum computing investments on the rise - Help Net Security - June 2nd, 2021
- IBM has partnered with IITs, others to advance training, research in quantum computing - Elets - June 2nd, 2021
- Toshiba and 10 other Japanese firms to form quantum tech tie-up - The Japan Times - June 2nd, 2021
- Illinois, IBM creating $200M Institute on emerging technology | - University Business - June 2nd, 2021
- CINECA and D-Wave Expand Access to Quantum Computing Technology and Resources in Italy - HPCwire - May 16th, 2021
- New Evidence for Controversial Theory That the Electron Is Composed of Two Particles - SciTechDaily - May 16th, 2021
- Outlook on the Quantum Technology Global Market to 2026 - - GlobeNewswire - May 16th, 2021
- IBM Think 2021- All In On Hybrid Cloud And AI - Forbes - May 16th, 2021
- IBM Think 2021 kicks off with AI innovations and some interesting quantum news - The Next Web - May 16th, 2021
- Quantum Computing Professor, Researcher Yacoby Elected to American Academy of Arts & Sciences - HPCwire - May 1st, 2021
- How Merck works with Seeqc to cut through quantum computing hype - VentureBeat - April 28th, 2021
- Wannabe Wired: When will we feel like we're living in the future? - The Lawton Constitution - April 28th, 2021
- Selected to Build New Supercomputer for the National Supercomputing Centre Singapore - HPCwire - April 28th, 2021
- Six faculty elected to National Academy of Sciences - Stanford Today - Stanford University News - April 28th, 2021
- To make acquisition work, IBM can have preferences says CEO Arvind Krishna, but Red Hat cant - IT World Canada - April 28th, 2021
- Time-Reversal Symmetry Breaking in a Superconductor - SciTechDaily - April 28th, 2021
- Will the Government Succeed in Building a Quantum Computing Center? - DesignNews - April 27th, 2021
- What were the fastest growing sectors last year? - BusinessCloud - April 27th, 2021
- Universities across Europe urge EU to remove threat of research ban on Israel, UK and Switzerland - Science Business - April 27th, 2021
- Atos unveils global R&D Lab to drive innovation in Cybersecurity, High Performance Computing and Quantum - GlobeNewswire - April 27th, 2021
- Quantum Computing Technologies market size to expand momentously over 2021-2026 - Business-newsupdate.com - April 27th, 2021
- Cambridge Quantum pushes into NLP and quantum computing with new head of AI - VentureBeat - April 24th, 2021
- Quantum: It's still not clear what its good for, but Amazon and QCI will help developers find out - ZDNet - April 24th, 2021
- Are We Doomed to Repeat History? The Looming Quantum Computer Event Horizon - Electronic Design - April 24th, 2021
- Fine-tuning the color of light | Stanford News - Stanford University News - April 24th, 2021
- Cleveland Clinic and IBM hope their tech partnership could help prevent the next pandemic - WTHITV.com - April 24th, 2021
- Quantum Computing Market Share Current and Future Industry Trends, 2020 to 2027 The Courier - The Courier - April 24th, 2021
- Atos unveils global R&D Lab to drive innovation in Cybersecurity, High Performance Computing and Quantum - Yahoo Finance UK - April 24th, 2021
- The first 100 days: What does President Bidens approach to the world look like so far? - Brookings Institution - April 24th, 2021
- Cleveland Clinic and IBM Partner on HPC, AI and Quantum Computing - insideHPC - April 8th, 2021
- OneConnect Financial Technology and Singapore Management University announce key findings from joint research on potential for quantum computing to... - April 8th, 2021
- Cleveland Clinic, IBM launch 10-year quantum computing partnership - Healthcare IT News - March 31st, 2021
- Quantum computing: How basic broadband fiber could pave the way to the next breakthrough - ZDNet - March 31st, 2021
- IBM's first 'retail' quantum computer in the US headed to Cleveland Clinic - CNET - March 31st, 2021
- Honeywell says quantum computers will outpace standard verification in 18 to 24 months - VentureBeat - March 31st, 2021
- Cleveland Clinic, IBM ink a ten-year quantum computing dealhere are 2 ways the tech can be used in healthcare - eMarketer - March 31st, 2021
- Cleveland Clinic will be IBMs first private sector customer to install a quantum computer on premises - VentureBeat - March 31st, 2021
- Cleveland Clinic and IBM hope their tech partnership could help prevent the next pandemic - WXII The Triad - March 31st, 2021
- Cleveland Clinic and IBM announce 10-year partnership; includes first quantum computer for healthcare research - WKYC.com - March 31st, 2021
- IBM brings quantum computer to Cleveland Clinic -- but what is that? The Wake Up for Wednesday, March 31, 2021 - cleveland.com - March 31st, 2021
- IBM partners with Cleveland Clinic to build on-site quantum computer | The Burn-In - The Burn-In - March 31st, 2021
- In battle with U.S., China to focus on 7 'frontier' technologies from chips to brain-computer fusion - CNBC - March 6th, 2021
- Quantum computing, drones and 3D printing what South African schools could be teaching by 2030 - BusinessTech - March 6th, 2021
- Quantum Xchange Wins Cyber Security Global Excellence Awards for the Third Consecutive Year - PRNewswire - March 6th, 2021
- UK Government to invest 153 million in quantum research projects - Finextra - March 6th, 2021
- Quantum internet one step closer to reality with innovative wavelength switch - E&T Magazine - March 6th, 2021
- Quantum Computing Startup IonQ in Talks to Go Public Through Merger with DMY SPAC - Data Center Knowledge - March 2nd, 2021
- Why now is the right time to invest in European quantum computing - Sifted - March 2nd, 2021
- Google Teams With D-Wave in Massive Quantum Computing Leap, Cracking Simulation Problem - The Daily Hodl - March 2nd, 2021
- SD Times Open-Source Project of the Week: PennyLane - SDTimes.com - March 2nd, 2021
- The Quantum Computing market is expected to grow from USD 472 million in 2021 to USD 1,765 million by 2026, at a CAGR of 30.2% - GlobeNewswire - February 14th, 2021
- The Quantum Comprehension Gap and the Emergence of Quantum Ethics - insideHPC - February 14th, 2021
- Quantum computing breakthrough uses cryogenics to scale machines to thousands of times their current size - The Independent - February 5th, 2021
- Cambridge named as world-leading centre of quantum computing research - Varsity Online - February 5th, 2021
- IBM's new roadmap for quantum computing promises 100x speedups and then some - Neowin - February 5th, 2021
- This company is using quantum-inspired algorithms to help create the OLED displays of the future - ZDNet - February 5th, 2021
- Quantum Computing 101 -What it is, how is it different and why it matters - The Jerusalem Post - January 31st, 2021
- A Quantum Leap Is Coming: Ones, Zeros And Everything In Between - Transmission & Distribution World - January 31st, 2021
- University of Glasgow partners with Oxford Instruments NanoScience on quantum computing - SelectScience - January 31st, 2021
- Caltech and NTT developing the world's fastest quantum computer - Digital Journal - January 31st, 2021
- Aliro Joins the Center for Quantum Networks (CQN) Industry Advisory Board to Lay the Foundations for a Commercially-Available Quantum Internet -... - January 31st, 2021