Everything You Need to Know About the IBM Quantum Computer12th March 2019
There were many curiosities at the Consumer Electronics Show 2019 (CES). Among the oddities, such as the smart plank and walking cars, one announcement was made that could be pivotal to the world of computing.
The Q System One, IBM revealed, is the first standalone quantum computer that’s ready for commercial use. What’s a quantum computer? Check out this article we wrote back in January. It’ll tell you all you need to know about qubits, superposition and quantum computing.
So, when should I buy a Q System One?
The Q System One is a 9-foot tall glass cube and cost millions upon millions of dollars to produce. It’s also currently the only model in existence, so don’t be heading to PC World for an IBM Q System One any time soon.
If I can’t have one, what is the Q System one going to be used for?
The Q System One will ‘[expand] quantum computing beyond the research lab [and] develop its practical quantum applications for businesses and science’ according to IBM’s Arvind Krishna. Clearly, nobody is sure just yet.
Should I be afraid?
Quite possibly! Some clever bod recently worked out that quantum computers will ‘break’ the currently ‘unbreakable’ key-based encryption system because they can factor such large numbers in a fraction of the time. In just a few years from now that would mean updating the encryption technology of every exposed system worldwide. Frankly, you could die of boredom waiting for a download like that.
If I bought a quantum desktop computer I wouldn’t have to update my encryption technology though, would I?
In theory no, if such a thing were possible. At the moment, however, you need to think of this new IBM computer as the quantum equivalent of the gigantic mainframe computers of the 1950s and 60s. Also, most of us will access quantum computing via the cloud.
Ah, more subscriptions.
How will quantum computing via the cloud work out?
Quantum computing via the cloud will mean that, rather than miniturising quantum technology so that it can fit inside your home, quantum computers will remain the same size and capacity.
This means that IBM’s quantum computers can be maintained by a crack team of highly specialised technicians in a highly controlled laboratory environment. The work done by the quantum computers can then be fed back to you via the cloud.
Laboratory conditions? Is this computer delicate?
Qubits are very delicate when they are in a state known as superposition that is essential for quantum computing. To remain in superposition reliably, the machine has to maintain consistently low temperatures with zero interference from outside vibrations. That means no noise, no other machinery nearby and no large moving parts in the computer itself. You can see why quantum computing via the cloud appears to be the viable option currently.
Check out that smart plank, by the way. It’ll probably be in your home sooner than a quantum computer.