Microsoft heralds 'key milestone' for quantum computing

A quantum computer
(Image credit: Graham Carlow/IBM)

Microsoft has revealed that its cloud-based quantum computing platform, Azure Quantum, is now available in public preview.

The company has described the move as a “key milestone”, allowing developers and researchers to harness opportunities afforded by access to quantum resources, but via a familiar toolset.

According to a Microsoft blog post, Azure Quantum gives users access to services from a range of quantum industry partners, including Honeywell, IonQ, Quantum Circuits and more.

The platform operates on a pay-as-you-go model and can be scaled up or down in line with usage needs. As per the pricing page, Azure Quantum can be sampled for as little as £7.45/compute hour (roughly $10.30/hour), although more complex workloads are considerably more expensive.

“The transition to public preview of Azure Quantum is a key milestone for quantum computing and our ecosystem,” wrote Krysta Svore, GM at Microsoft Quantum.

“Customers using Azure Quantum have already demonstrated valuable ways to build solutions to complex problems. From logistics and freight optimization to risk management solutions and fighting cancer, we’re seeing real-world application of Azure Quantum solutions today.”

Quantum computing breakthrough

The move to push Azure Quantum into public preview follows on the heels of a technological breakthrough, stemming from a partnership between Microsoft and the University of Sydney.

The collaborators have devised a new control chip, charmingly named Gooseberry, that allows for a high volume of qubits (quantum bits) to be controlled effectively in the extreme conditions required for quantum effects to take place.

A “cryo-compute” core immersed in liquid helium, meanwhile, executes the computing functions necessary to deliver commands to Gooseberry.

“Despite the unmatched potential computing power of qubits, they have an Achilles’ heel: great instability. Since quantum states are easily disturbed by the environment, researchers must go to extraordinary lengths to protect them,” explains a Microsoft blog post.

“These novel classical computing technologies solve the I/O nightmares associated with controlling thousands of qubits.”

Microsoft Gooseberry

(Image credit: Microsoft)
Joel Khalili
News and Features Editor

Joel Khalili is the News and Features Editor at TechRadar Pro, covering cybersecurity, data privacy, cloud, AI, blockchain, internet infrastructure, 5G, data storage and computing. He's responsible for curating our news content, as well as commissioning and producing features on the technologies that are transforming the way the world does business.