A brief history (so far) of quantum computing [PART 2]

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Most of us have become aware of quantum computing in recent years. As is often the case with significant scientific and technical advances, the origins occurred decades ago. Subsequent theorizing, elaborating, tinkering and engineering have stretched over the intervening decades. Then, all this work results in various prototypes. Eventually, reasonably finished products appear that an end-user without a Ph.D. and a supporting lab team can use.

Quantum computing is the use of quantum phenomena such as superposition and entanglement to perform computations. Computers that perform quantum calculations are known as quantum computers.

The following pages describe the highlights of the development of quantum computing so far. Click here for Part 1, and check back later this week for part 3!

D-Wave Systems Inc. – 16-qubits

D-Wave demonstrated what it calls the first “commercial” quantum computer. The prototype machine, which uses a 16-qubit process quantum computer, was tested later at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California, in 2008.

The photograph shows one of the filters used to clean the noise from the quantum computer.


Source: First Quantum Computer Demonstrated
Photo by D-Wave Systems

D-Wave Systems Inc. – 28-qubits

D-Wave and Google demonstrated a 28-qubit computer running an image recognition algorithm at SuperComputing 2007 in November 2007.

The technology in D-Wave’s quantum computer, called adiabatic quantum computing, is based on superconducting electronics. Superconductors can be used to build large structures that behave according to the rules of quantum mechanics. D-Wave specialists say these structures naturally shield themselves from external noise, creating a safe haven for quantum effects.


Source: D-Wave Demonstrates 28-Qubit Quantum Computer
Photo by D-Wave Systems/J. Chung

First quantum computer

In August 2009, a National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) team led by Jonathan Home unveiled the first small-scale device that could be described as a quantum computer. This new device can perform a complete set of quantum logic operations without important information lost in transit.


Source: Tiny device is first complete ‘quantum computer’
Photo by J Jost/NIST

D-Wave Systems Inc. – 128 qubits

D-Wave produced what it called the world’s first commercially available quantum computer in 2011. It was a programmable, superconducting integrated circuit with up to 128 pair-wise coupled superconducting flux qubits.

A 512-qubit quantum computer superseded the 128-qubit processor in 2013.

Source: D-Wave Systems.

Photo by D-Wave Systems.

John Martinis

In 2014, Google hired John Martinis, a physicist, and his team at the University of California Santa Barbara to build the first useful quantum computer. In 2002, John Martinis started working with Josephson-Junction qubits to build the first quantum computer.


Source: Google Hires Quantum Computing Expert John Martinis to Build New Hardware
Photo by Spencer Bruttig

D-Wave Systems Inc. – 512 qubits

The D-Wave Two processor, available in 2014, contained 512 quantum qubits and was explicitly designed to perform the quantum annealing technique. That’s a technique for finding the global minimum of a complicated mathematical function. D-Wave’s approach might be more immune to the noise that can destroy conventional quantum calculations. 


Source: Is D-Wave’s quantum computer actually a quantum computer?
Photo by D-Wave Systems

D-Wave Systems Inc. – 1000+ qubits

D-Wave announced the general availability of the latest generation of D-Wave quantum computers, the D-Wave 2X system, in August 2015. With 1000+ qubits and many other technological advancements, the D-Wave 2X will enable customers to run much larger, more complex problems on the system.


Source: D-Wave Systems
Photo by D-Wave Systems

IBM – 5 qubits

In May 2016, IBM made some of its gate-based quantum processors available on the Internet as a cloud service for anyone to use to experiment. IBM believes quantum processors should become more easily accessible for programmers to learn how to write quantum code. Check back later this week for Part 3!


Source: IBM launches quantum computing as a cloud service
Photo by IBM



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