IBM has built a quantum computer which anyone can access and use via the cloud, opening up a new world of powerful computing online – at least for researchers and scientists who can get to grips with this technology.
The five-qubit quantum computer operates from a laboratory in New York and is known as the IBM Quantum Experience. IBM said that it'll be available for hands-on access for tackling experiments, and exploring the uses of quantum computing and helping universities teach the subject, as well as letting businesses fathom the potential of the technology.
IBM hopes that opening up the Quantum Experience in this manner will help to spark further innovations in the field, and lead to the development of bigger and better quantum computers down the line.
Quantum computers are exponentially more powerful than traditional machines, built using qubits (quantum bits) which can have more than two simple states (0 or 1).
IBM stated: "Most of today's quantum computing research in academia and industry is focused on building a universal quantum computer. The major challenges include creating qubits of high quality and packaging them together in a scalable way, so they can perform complex calculations in a controllable way."
The company reckons that within the next decade we'll see quantum computers of around 50 to 100 qubits, and that a 50 qubit effort would be more powerful than any of today's top supercomputers.
As we saw earlier this year, Microsoft is also going big on quantum computing, with major research efforts looking at the theoretical side of creating these machines, and designing the relevant hardware and software. One of the first steps Redmond has made is to hook up with Rambus to research the memory requirements necessary for quantum computers.
Image Credit: IBM Research