In both the 50- and the 20-qubit systems, the quantum state is preserved for 90 microseconds-a record for the industry, but still an extremely short period of time.
IBM said the 50-qubit processor will be implemented in Q Systems sometime next year via a series of planned upgrades, leading to even greater performance.
Jonathan Breeze, a research fellow working on advanced materials at Imperial College London and not affiliated with any of the companies developing quantum computing, said practical applications of quantum computers will depend largely on being able to reduce the error rate in their calculations. The company's researchers helped create the field of quantum information processing, and it has pursued fundamental research in the area for decades.
"We are really proud of this; it's a big frickin' deal", IBM's director for AI and quantum computing Dario Gil, who made Friday's announcement, told the MIT Technology Review. Luckily IBM researchers know all about the emerging technology, announcing today that they have come up with the first 50-qubit quantum computer prototype. IBM has also added new tools that let users study the state of the quantum system and integrate QISKit with the IBM Data Science Experience, which is a compiler tool that maps desired experiments onto the available hardware. Users have registered from over 1500 universities, 300 high schools, and 300 private institutions worldwide, many of whom are accessing the IBM Q experience as part of their formal education. This drives home the point that this is a real technology, not just a pipe dream.
Quantum computing systems are powerful enough to enable new applications that a conventional PC can't handle. IBM Q, which was announced in March, is a followup to that effort. "Simulators don't currently capture the nuances of the actual quantum hardware platforms, and nothing is more convincing for a proof-of-concept than results obtained from an actual quantum processor".
The firm pointed to traffic guidance systems, empty parking spaces and available EV chargers, which could slash travel times. (IBM) logo in the lobby of the IBM Almaden Research Center campus in San Jose, California, U.S., on Wednesday, July 14, 2010.
Quantum computing is believed to hold incredible potential, thanks to an architecture that's fundamentally different from that of today's personal computers, smartphones and other computing devices. IBM has made significant strides tackling problems on small scale universal quantum computing systems.
Google has also taken a keen interest in quantum computing in recent years.
The ultimate goal of quantum computing is a fault tolerant universal system that automatically fixes errors and has unlimited coherence. Founding members include Samsung, JSR, Honda, Hitachi Metals, Canon, and Nagase.
Martin Hofmann, chief information officer at Volkswagen Group, said: "Quantum computing technology opens up new dimensions and represents the fast-track for future-oriented topics". "The holy grail is fault-tolerant universal quantum computing".