The UK's splashing the cash for its next quantum purchase: the science minister Amanda Solloway has announced the country's very first commercial quantum computer, backed by a £10 million ($13.36 million) investment from government and industry, to be available to use by businesses within the next few years. The new machine is expected to help businesses unleash the billion-dollar opportunities promised by the quantum revolution in industries ranging from pharmaceuticals and transport to aerospace. While the new quantum computer will be physically located in Abingdon, Oxfordshire, partners and customers will be able to access and operate the system over the cloud, to run applications in machine learning, materials simulation and finance. Solloway said: "Our ambition is to be the world's first quantum-ready economy, which could provide UK businesses and industries with billions of pounds worth of opportunities. Therefore, I am delighted that companies across the country will have access to our first commercial quantum computer, to be based in Abingdon."
SAN FRANCISCO – Few corners of the tech industry are as tantalizing or complex as quantum computing. For years its evangelists have promised machines capable of breaking the most impenetrable coded messages, unlocking the secret properties of the physical world and putting supercomputers to shame. Right now, Rigetti's challenge for itself is this: Can it solve one, single problem with a quantum computer that a conventional machine cannot? Even if it just meant answering a question more quickly or cheaply than a supercomputer, the team of physicists and mathematicians at the startup's Berkeley, California, office would be overjoyed. Today, your laptop can solve pretty much everything one of the startup's quantum computers can do, just as quickly.
Quantum computers could one day perform calculations beyond the reach of even the most powerful classical supercomputer, but for now building and maintaining these machines remains immensely expensive and difficult. So over the past few years, the nascent industry has begun to make some of the relatively few quantum machines in existence available to researchers and businesses via the computing cloud. A startup called Rigetti Computing has just taken the wraps off a new Quantum Cloud Service (QCS) that builds on its existing offering, which includes Forest, a software toolkit for quantum programming in the cloud. There's a $1 million prize for the first person or team using QCS to demonstrate that a quantum machine is capable of showing what the company calls "quantum advantage". Rigetti defines this as showing that a quantum machine can come up with a higher quality, faster, or cheaper solution to an important and valuable problem than a classical one can.
A few yards from the stockpile of La Croix in the warehouse space behind startup Rigetti Computing's offices in Fremont, California, sits a machine like a steampunk illustration made real. Its steel chambers are studded with bolts, handles, and circular ports. But this monster is powered by electricity, not coal, and evaporates aluminum, not water--it makes superconducting electronics. Rigetti is using the machine and millions of dollars' worth of other equipment housed here in hermetically sealed glass lab spaces to try and build a new kind of super-powerful computer that runs on quantum physics. It's hardly alone in such an undertaking, though it is the underdog: Rigetti is racing against similar projects at Google, Microsoft, IBM, and Intel.
Any company looking to get in on the ground floor of quantum computing should ask itself three questions, advises Chad Rigetti, CEO of Rigetti Computing, which is building the first cloud service powered by quantum computing. "Does your organization use advanced computing?" "Do you know what your unmet computing needs are?" "If you could meet those computing needs, would it grow your top line revenue?" "If the answer to three of those questions is yes, then the time to start thinking about doing something in quantum is now," Rigetti concluded Monday at the Forbes CIO Summit in Half Moon Bay, California. Such triple-yes companies will boost the quantum computing industry's worth to $45 billion by 2022, Deloitte Insights predicts, as industries scramble for the high-performance abilities this nascent technology promises.