As much as a quantum computer may be the holy grail for anyone looking for extreme performance, we’re a long way off making them at the scale of current computer hardware and having them be the multi-functional, endlessly powerful machines we want. But early developments are still rather impressive. Take D-Wave’s 2X quantum computer, which is already capable of operating some tasks at 100 million times the speed of conventional chips.
The world’s first 2X is currently located in NASA’s Ames Research Centre, where it operates the room-size system with Google. The system isn’t quite ready to play the latest AAA games just yet, but in computational scenarios where there are as many as 1,000 binary variables, quantum annealing is able to outperform simulated annealing on traditional hardware by over 100 million times.
As VentureBeat points out, this number will be one that people latch on to as a measure of how impressive the machine is and will certainly help make a strong case for future private investment in quantum computing and for D-Wave, which continues to develop and manufacture its quantum systems.
There are certainly many other areas it could improve though, beyond just increasing speed and functionality.
“I would say building a quantum computer is really, really hard, so first of all, we’re just trying to get it to work and not worry about cost or size or whatever,” said Google’s head of hardware John Martinis.
Indeed as a computer that is as large as a small room, the D-Wave 2x harkens back to the days of yore when traditional computers were giant monstrosities weighing several tonnes a piece. They will get smaller and more efficient though and when they do, the computational abilities of a quantum system could allow for improved image recognition or better sorting of big-data.
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KitGuru Says: As Moore’s law edges ever close to its eventual completion, it’s good to see some are working on something that might come next. Not sure I could fit one of these under my desk though.