The Quantum Computing industry has leaped forward at a staggering pace over the last three years. In this time the fantastic technology has moved from the realm of fantasy to reality. Now the marketplace is waking up to the promise and potential of quantum computing. Deloite claim venture capital investors have placed $147 million with quantum computing start-ups and governments globally, have provided $2.2 billion in support to researchers since 2016. Let’s find out who the big names driving the quantum revolution forward and the companies currently using the technology.
D-Wave is the only company that is presently offering quantum computers in the open market. It sold its first system in 2011, and its latest version has 2,000 qubits, which is called the D-Wave 2000Q. However, D-Wave computers are not general purpose and can only be used for specific applications, such as optimization, sampling, anomaly detection, and image analysis. Customers of D-Wave’s quantum computers include Los Alamos National Laboratory, Google, NASA, Lockheed Martin, and Virginia Tech.
Google built a 9-qubit processor in 2015. Late last year, Google, in collaboration with researchers from University of California Santa Barbara, has built a 50-qubit chip, which is now in the test phase.
In 2016, IBM launched its IBM Q with six qubits as an attempt to build commercial quantum computers for business and science. IBM has made this quantum platform accessible to researchers and developers around the world. Then, in May 2017, the platform was upgraded with a 17 qubit processor. IBM-Q also offers a quantum computer simulation environment where large conventional computers are used to simulate quantum computer functions. To date, about 300,000 quantum experiments have been run by developers on this platform. In November 2017, IBM announced the fabrication of a 50-qubit prototype.
In October 2017 Intel announced its 17-qubit chip, the first quantum computing hardware by a chipmaker. The processor was developed in conjunction with its Dutch partners, QuTech and Delft University of Technology. Intel claimed that its expertise in fabrication, control electronics, and architecture would give them a competitive edge. Apparently, that wasn’t just boasting as it unveiled a 49 qubit processing chip at the Consumer Electronics Show in January 2018 in Las Vegas. In three months, the company has managed to scale their technology to the level competitors like Google and IBM who have been working for years.
Back in 2005, Microsoft launched “Station Q” a research lab focused on quantum computing, but whose progress remained unknown for years. In September 2017, Microsoft announced the launch of a new coding language and computing simulators for quantum computing. This programming language and simulators will be available in late 2018.
Founded in 2014, Rigetti is a California-based private company specialized in quantum hardware and software with a mission to build the world’s most powerful computer. In June 2017, Rigetti announced its 8-qubit chip and a software environment, called Forest. Rigetti’s quantum roadmap includes a chip with over 50 qubits, which is expected to be ready within a year.
Major Users of quantum computing
Some companies are getting a head start on applying quantum technology to computationally intensive problems in finance, risk management, cybersecurity, materials science, energy, and logistics. Lets have a further look at those companies.
Airbus: Airbus is a global aerospace-and-defense corporation and they want to harness the immense power of quantum computers to speed up aircraft research.
In 2015, the organisation established a research team, tasked with the study of potential applications of quantum technologies. Airbus seeks to use quantum computing systems to tackle some of the problems that are inherent to its activity, which includes data storage and sorting, satellites imagery analysis, and the development of new materials for its aircrafts.
Biogen: As a leading biotech company, Biogen is seeking to advance the development of drugs for neurological and neurodegenerative diseases. In June 2017, it announced the teaming up with Accenture Labs and 1QBit, a quantum software startup, to speed up the discovery of new drugs.
Lockheed Martin: Lockheed has partnered with D-Wave since its launch and was its first client. It acquired a D-Wave One system in late 2010. Then, in 2013, it upgraded its system to the 512-qubit D-Wave Two, and once again, in 2015, to the 1000+ qubit D-Wave 2X. Lockheed has partnered with the University of Southern California, to create USC-Lockheed Martin Quantum Computation Center, where the D-Wave quantum system is being used to explore “adiabatic quantum computing.”
Raytheon: Raytheon is working to put quantum technology to good use, from computers and sensors to imaging technology and cybersecurity. BBN Technologies, a research subsidiary of Raytheon, in a joint effort with IBM Research has demonstrated in May 2017 the first proofs of quantum computing advantage over conventional computing.
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