Microsoft is accelerating its efforts to make a quantum computer as it looks to a future of computing beyond today's PCs and servers. Microsoft has researched quantum computing for more than a decade. Now the company's goal is to put the theory to work and create actual hardware and software. To that effect, Microsoft has put Todd Holmdahl--who was involved in the development of Kinect, HoloLens, and Xbox--to lead the effort to create quantum hardware and software. The company has also hired four prominent university professors to contribute to the company's research.
Over the past couple of years, quantum computing has moved from the theoretical side to practice. Right now, there is actual quantum hardware -- although not great -- that you can use to execute codes written in Python. This big step from theory to practice made getting into the field of quantum computing more accessible and doable for anyone interested. If you were ever curious about quantum computing and its potential to improve many fields such as machine learning and artificial intelligence, not to mention the premise that it could solve problems current computers failed to solve. You probably tried to look up some materials and try to read more on the topic. Finding good materials is not always an easy task.
Quantum computing sounds like something out of Star Trek, even when explained at the simplest of levels, but it's a field the tech sector is anxious to crack because of the enormous leap in computation power it offers. Google and IBM have spent a lot of money on their projects, and now Microsoft is bringing its considerable research facilities to bear. Quantum computing offers potential leaps forward in computing because unlike conventional transistors, operates on the binary level of 0 or 1, which translates to an on or off state for the transistors -- quantum computing uses quantum bits, or qubits, which can exist simultaneously in both 0 and 1 states. This means potentially representing enormous number of values simultaneously, which translates to much faster computation. Qubits are very hard to work with because they are so easily destabilized.
Technical quarrels between quantum computing experts rarely escape the field's rarified community. Late Monday, though, IBM's quantum team picked a highly public fight with Google. In a technical paper and blogpost, IBM took aim at potentially history-making scientific results accidentally leaked from a collaboration between Google and NASA last month. That draft paper claimed Google had reached a milestone dubbed "quantum supremacy"--a kind of drag race in which a quantum computer proves able to do something a conventional computer can't. Monday, Big Blue's quantum PhD's said Google's claim of quantum supremacy was flawed.
IBM has announced a major new initiative to make universal quantum computers available commercially. IBM Q will offer up the power of quantum computation via the IBM Cloud platform, a first for the industry, and potentially a major step forward for the field. Quantum hardware has already been made available by the likes of D-Wave, but its hardware is limited in the kinds of computation it can achieve. IBM Q marks the first time that a universal quantum computer is being offered up. A universal quantum computer is capable of tackling problems that are too large for a conventional system, so IBM Q would have many applications beyond what's possible with current technology.