Google has signed a deal with D-Wave to improve the company’s quantum computer over the next seven years.
The appeal of quantum computing is virtually unlimited processing power achieved by reworking how many processes can be done at once on a single “bit.”
The agreement is for an undisclosed sum and allows D-Wave to double the amount of qubits — an update to the “bit” found in traditional processors — from 512 to over 1,000, meaning the machine is twice as powerful as before.
The appeal of quantum computing is this: in a traditional processor, each “bit” can only have one position which is off (known as 0) or on (known as 1). A quantum chip, however, can simultaneously be both 0 and 1, increasing the power of the processor exponentially. If you have two qubits, you can hold four values simultaneously: 00, 01, 10 and 11. The more qubits added, the more powerful the machine becomes.
Google and NASA have not yet found a use for quantum computers but are confident that in the future there will be an application that will justify the costs and talent required to research this new form of computing. According to The Financial Times, quantum computing excels in optimising large volumes of data.
There have been disputes about whether D-Wave’s technology actually constitutes quantum computing. Recently, the company published a paper claiming that it had evidence behaviour had been viewed that went beyond “simulated annealing” — the current computational process used by computers — to “quantum annealing” which is much faster.
Google recently held an event which pitted the quantum computer against its traditional computers, with inconclusive results. The company told Wired that it is “optimistic that we can find challenges where the [quantum] hardware is superior.”
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