Intel is taking a slow and steady approach to quantum computing. Competitors like Google may be racing to achieve so-called quantum supremacy, in which a quantum computer outperforms an ordinary one. But Intel's James Clarke has bigger ideas. He leads the firm's quantum computing research team, and says it is looking past near-term goals in order to be the first to make a device with a million qubits, or quantum bits – enough to have a real impact on the world.
Predicting the dynamics of many-body quantum systems is a formidable computational task, in which quantum computers could come to the aid of classical ones. However, the corrections needed to keep errors in check as a quantum computer works require enormous quantum resources. Li and Benjamin propose a hybrid quantum-classical computer based on variational principles. In the proposed system, the classical computer does most of the work and "outsources" to its quantum partner only very specific tasks. This reduces the number of operations that the quantum partner needs to do, allowing it to be less than perfect; the system can efficiently compensate for the quantum partner's errors.
That might not sound like much, but in the quantum computing arms race, several groups are edging past one another as they aim to eventually make a universal quantum computer. A group of researchers at the Joint Quantum Institute has created a quantum simulator using 53 quantum bits, or qubits. Earlier this month, IBM announced a 50-qubit prototype, though its capabilities are unclear. With this 53-qubit device, the researchers have done scientific simulations that don't seem to be possible
IBM continues to push its quantum computing efforts forward and today announced that it will soon make a 53-qubit quantum computer available to clients of its IBM Q Network. The new system, which is scheduled to go online in the middle of next month, will be the largest universal quantum computer available for external use yet. The new machine will be part of IBM's new Quantum Computation Center in New York State, which the company also announced today. The new center, which is essentially a data center for IBM's quantum machines, will also feature five 20-qubit machines, but that number will grow to 14 within the next month. IBM promises a 95% service availability for its quantum machines.
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.