Google and NASA unveil new ice cold quantum computer

D-Wave 2

Google is pumping yet more power into its quantum computer lab through a new computer that operates at a temperature colder than outer space.

First reported by The Verge, the new D-Wave 2X quantum processor will be added to the Quantum Artificial Intelligence Lab as part of a multi-year agreement signed by Google, NASA and the Universities Research Association that own the Quantum AI Lab.

"Working with the D-Wave processors has helped us develop and fine-tune models of quantum annealing," Google's Hartmut Neven, head of the Quantum Artificial Intelligence Lab, said in a statement. "We look forward to the continued advancements coming from each generation of D-Wave systems."

What is D-Wave?

D-Wave 2X is a quantum processor that was released early this year and possesses 1,000 qubits, as such being able to boast the highest amount of power of any quantum computer out there right now.

To be able to operate at such a high level the qubits are incredibly fragile and need to be operate at very low temperatures. What this translates to is a standard operating temperature that dips below 15 millikelvin. To put that into perspective it's a temperature far lower than outer space.

Google began building its quantum computer late last year and has been using Canadian company D-Wave's chips the whole way through.

Quantum computing is popular as it can complete complex tasks both faster and more efficiently than a regular PC, however, it is still very expensive and the low temperatures it has to be kept at mean that it will stay in the test lab for the time being.

Therefore don't expect to see it inside regular PCs any time soon, if ever. Instead it has so far been successful for voice recognition in Google Now and the artificial intelligence direction is where Google's ultimate success with this technology could come.