One of them fancy new D-Wave quantum computers

D-Wave quantum computers

D-Wave has launched its new computer, probably the fastest in the world, 100 million times faster in some ways, and is selling it for a cool $15 million a pop. 

The new D-Wave 2000Q – as its names suggests – has 2,000 qubits, 1,000 more than its previous incarnation.

Jeremy Hilton, SVP Systems at D-Wave, says: “The D-Wave 2000Q quantum computer takes a leap forward with a larger, more computationally powerful and programmable system, and is an important step toward more general-purpose quantum computing.”

Qubits are not like ordinary bits – generated by tiny transistors inside the microprocessors – that you would have in your conventional computing device, apparently.

Whereas the transistors in your everyday computing device can either be in an “on” or “off” state – hence, binary – qubits can, in theory, be either in the on or off state, and maybe even in several states at once – hence, no one really knows.

“We are the only company selling quantum computers, and our growing ecosystem of users and developers gives us the benefit of their practical experience as we develop products to solve real-world problems,” says Vern Brownell, D-Wave’s CEO.

“While other organizations have prototypes with just a few qubits in their labs, D-Wave is delivering the systems, software, training, and services needed to build an industry.”

D-Wave’s customers and backers include Lockheed Martin, Google, Nasa Ames, and Los Alamos National Laboratory. The $15 million price tag puts the machine out of the range of most individuals and businesses.

However, computer experts predict that quantum computing will gradually go mainstream as it’s a superior method.

The “killer app” for quantum computing is said to be machine learning applications, which require vast compute resources.

But given that the D-Wave requires highly specific instructions which are completely different from the way conventional computers are programmed, it will be some time before quantum computing grows beyond the very small circle it is currently in.

The potential for the system is huge, says D-Wave.

“With 2000 qubits and new control features, the new system can solve larger problems than was previously possible, with faster performance, providing a big step toward production applications in optimization, cybersecurity, machine learning, and sampling,” says the company in a statement.

The company released some performance benchmarks:

  • D-Wave QPUs outperformed competitive classical algorithms by 1,000 to 10,000 times in pure computation time;
  • The D-Wave 2000Q system outperformed the GPU-based implementations by 100 times in equivalent problem solving performance per watt; and
  • New technical features – “anneal offsets” – helped the system run 1,000 times faster than baseline performance.

Hilton says: “In the future, we will continue to increase the performance of our quantum computers by adding more qubits, richer connections between qubits, more control features; by lowering noise; and by providing more efficient, easy-to-use software.”

D-Wave 2000Q is available for shipping now, with systems also accessible to subscribers remotely over the internet. Apparently.