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IBM Unveils 'World's First Commercial Quantum Computer'

10 January 2019

"The IBM Q System One is a major step forward in the commercialization of quantum computing", added Arvind Krishna, senior vice president of Hybrid Cloud and director of IBM Research.

Quantum computers have the potential to perform seemingly-impossible computing tasks, but they're still in their very early stages.

Quantum computers promise to outperform regular machines at certain tasks by exploiting the odd properties of quantum physics, and the IBM Q utilizes theories of physics to create computing techniques that are far more powerful than current devices. Is quantum computing no longer just a concept or theory?

Energy giant ExxonMobil and some of the world's pre-eminent research laboratories including CERN, Argonne, Fermilab, and Lawrence Berkeley are joining the IBM Q Network, IBM (NYSE: IBM) announced today at the 2019 Consumer Electronics show (CES) in Las Vegas.

IBM is now looking to make quantum computers commercially available.

"These organizations will work directly with IBM scientists, engineers and consultants to explore quantum computing for specific industries". Bob Sutor, the VP of IBM Q Strategy and Ecosystem. Whereas the bits found in a traditional computer hold either a 1 or a 0 at any given time, the quantum equivalent - the qubit - can exist in both states at once. This airtight enclosure helps control the temperature and ensure continuous use of Q System One quantum computer, which is ideal for businesses.

Other providers, such as D-Wave International, are offering specialized quantum computers that harness quantum annealing for optimization problems, from traffic optimization in China to election modeling. IBM has, therefore, consolidated all the components of the Q System One into a glass-enclosed, air-tight environment.

While IBM describes it as the first fully integrated universal quantum computing system designed for scientific and commercial use, it's worth stressing that a 20-qubit machine is nowhere near powerful enough for most of the commercial applications that people envision for a quantum computer with more qubits - and qubits that are useful for more than 100 microseconds.

It also has classical computation to provide secure cloud access and hybrid execution of quantum algorithms, according to IBM.

Actual use cases of quantum computing are yet to emerge, though IBM projects that there could be applications such as "finding new ways to model financial data and finding new ways to model financial data and isolating key global risk factors to make better investments, or finding the optimal path across global systems for ultra-efficient logistics and optimising fleet operations for deliveries".

IBM Unveils 'World's First Commercial Quantum Computer'