A brief history (so far) of quantum computing [PART 3]

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 represent the final part of our quantum computing series. Click here for Part 1, and for Part 2. 

D-Wave Systems Inc. – 2000 qubits

In September 2016, D-Wave Systems announced an advanced quantum computing system, featuring a new 2000-qubit processor.

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

Quantum Volume

IBM developed Quantum Volume (QV) in 2017. QV is a hardware-agnostic performance measurement for gate-based quantum computers that makes it easier to compare the capabilities of various manufacturers’ computers.

QV considers such computer characteristics as the number of qubits, connectivity, and error rates. Material improvements to underlying physical hardware, such as increases in coherence times, reduction of device crosstalk, and software circuit compiler efficiency, indicate measurable progress in Quantum Volume.

Source: Quantum Volume
Photo by: Gartner/IBM

Rigetti Computing – 8 qubits

In 2017 Chad Rigetti, a quantum computing physicist founded Rigetti Computing. He previously worked in the quantum computing group at IBM and holds a Ph.D. in applied physics from Yale.

Rigetti Computing opened a quantum computer fabrication facility to build quantum computers and compete against Google and IBM. In June 2017, the company tested eight-qubit computers and announced the public beta availability of a quantum cloud computing platform called Forest 1.0, which allowed software developers to write quantum algorithms.

Source: Rigetti Computing
Photo by Rigetti Computing

IBM – 53 qubits

In September 2019, IBM announced the opening of the IBM Quantum Computation Center in New York State. The new center expands the world’s largest fleet of quantum computing systems for commercial and research activity. The fleet was composed of five 20-qubit systems, one 14-qubit system, and four 5-qubit systems.

Later in 2019, IBM added four more quantum computers and a new 53-qubit quantum computer.

Source: IBM Opens Quantum Computation Center
Photo by IBM

Google Sycamore – 53 qubits

John M. Martinis and Google’s supercomputing team achieved a historic breakthrough, known in the field as quantum supremacy, in October 2019. That was when their Sycamore 53-qubit quantum computing processor’s breakthrough was verified.

Quantum supremacy occurs when a quantum computer performs a task no classical computer can complete. The Sycamore processor performed a computation in 200 seconds that would take the world’s fastest supercomputer approximately 10,000 years.

The Sycamore processor is based on tiny quantum bits made of superconducting materials that conduct energy without resistance.

Source: Quantum supremacy using a programmable superconducting processor
Photo by Eric Lucero

IonQ – 32 qubits

In 2020, IonQ made its trapped ion quantum computers commercially available via the cloud. IonQ claimed a quantum volume of a staggering 4 million. Honeywell was the previous record-holder with a QV of 128.

Source: IonQ Releases A New 32-Qubit Trapped-Ion Quantum Computer With Massive Quantum Volume Claims
Photo by Kai Hudek, Ionq

Amazon Braket

Amazon Web Services (AWS) launched Amazon Braket in August 2020. It is a fully managed solution that allows scientists, researchers, and software developers to experiment with computers from multiple quantum hardware providers in a single place.

Amazon Braket is a quantum computing service that allows scientists and software developers to accelerate research and discovery. Amazon Braket provides a development environment to build quantum algorithms, test them on quantum circuit simulators, and run them on various quantum hardware technologies.

Amazon Braket operates quantum annealers from D-Wave and gate-based quantum computers from Rigetti and IonQ.

Source: Amazon Braket
Photo by Amazon Web Services

D-Wave Systems Inc. – 5000 qubits

In September 2020, D-Wave launched its newest and largest quantum annealing quantum computer, a 5000-qubit goliath named Advantage. It features 15-way qubit interconnectivity. The company also introduced the D-Wave Launch program to jump-start businesses who want to get started building hybrid quantum applications. It also introduced a new hybrid solver – the discrete quadratic model (DQM) solver – which will become part of D-Wave’s hybrid solver services.

D-Wave said the new model is named Advantage because it enables end-users to reach the quantum advantage. Quantum advantage is the ability to run practical applications better than classical computer systems.

Source: D-Wave Delivers 5000-qubit System; Targets Quantum Advantage
Photo by D-Wave Systems


In December 2020, Jiuzhang achieved a similar quantum supremacy goal achieved in 2019 by Google’s Sycamore quantum computer. Jiuzhang is a quantum computer that consists of a complex array of optical devices that shuttle photons around.

Jiuzhang was designed and built by the University of Science and Technology of China. Its technology is quite different from the Sycamore quantum computer.

Source: The new light-based quantum computer Jiuzhang has achieved quantum supremacy
Photo by Hansen Zhong

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada
Yogi Schulz
Yogi Schulzhttp://www.corvelle.com
Yogi Schulz has over 40 years of Information Technology experience in various industries. Yogi works extensively in the petroleum industry to select and implement financial, production revenue accounting, land & contracts, and geotechnical systems. He manages projects that arise from changes in business requirements, from the need to leverage technology opportunities and from mergers. His specialties include IT strategy, web strategy, and systems project management.

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