IBM makes quantum computer available for free via the cloud

IBM announced it would allow researchers, programmers, and the general public to access and experiment with its quantum computer. While IBM’s current system contains just five qubits, it’s a fundamentally different type of computer than the D-Wave systems we’ve covered before.

D-Wave’s quantum annealer is best understood as a device that’s potentially faster than any classical computer at solving a specific set of problems. Measuring and defining the scenarios in which D-Wave outperforms classical systems is something Google and NASA have been doing for several years, but the sparsely connected topology of D-Wave systems limits its ability to solve real-world problems.

IBM’s five-qubit system isn’t very useful for problem solving either, but it’s a universal quantum computer, by which IBM means its architecture could be used for solving a much larger class of problems, provided the number of qubits can be scaled upwards. What makes this particular computer so interesting, however, is that IBM has found a way to implement error-checking in hardware — and error-checking is absolutely essential in a quantum computer.



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