D-Wave Breaks the 1000 Qubit Barrier for High Performance Quantum Computing

Quantum computing company D-Wave Systems announced that it has broken the 1000 qubit barrier, developing a processor about double the size of D-Wave’s previous generation, the Inside HPC newsletter for the High Performance Computing (HPC) community reports.

According to D-Wave, this is a major technological and scientific achievement that will allow significantly more complex computational problems to be solved than was possible on any previous quantum computer.

A Critical Step Toward the Promise of Quantum Computing

D-Wave Quantum Processor“This updated processor will allow significantly more complex computational problems to be solved than ever before,” said Jeremy Hilton, D-Wave’s VP for Processor Development. “Our newest quantum processor is over 1000 qubits – about double the size of our previous generation processor, and far exceeding the size of any other quantum processor. This updated processor will allow significantly more complex computational problems to be solved than ever before.”

The new processors will soon be available in next-generation D-Wave systems, which will be announced in the near future. A new processor will be on display at the upcoming GEOINT conference.

Quantum computers encode information in qubits that can be in a quantum superposition of zero and one states, and therefore they can process information in ways that have no equivalent in classical computing by exploiting subtle quantum phenomena such as quantum entanglement. Quantum computers may theoretically be able to solve certain problems – including code breaking – much faster than classical computer and perform computations that would be otherwise impossible. The theoretical peak performance of quantum computers increases very fast with the number of qubits – but so does the engineering challenge of building quantum processors, and therefore the D-Wave achievement is spectacular.

“For the high-performance computing industry, the promise of quantum computing is very exciting. It offers the potential to solve important problems that either can’t be solved today or would take an unreasonable amount of time to solve,” said Earl Joseph, IDC’s Program Vice President for High-Performance Computing and Executive Director of the HPC User Forum.

D-Wave is at the forefront of this space today with customers like NASA and Google, and this latest advancement will contribute significantly to the evolution of the Quantum Computing industry.

Google partnered with NASA to create the Quantum Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, which explores the quantum AI algorithms and the potential of quantum computers to solve previously intractable problems. The Laboratory is assessing the potential of D-Wave quantum computers to perform calculations that are difficult or impossible using conventional supercomputers in aeronautics, Earth and space sciences, and space exploration.

The new D-Wave processors, comprising over 128,000 Josephson tunnel junctions, are believed to be the most complex superconductor integrated circuits ever successfully yielded. They are fabricated in part at D-Wave’s facilities in Palo Alto, CA and at Cypress Semiconductor’s wafer foundry.

Beyond the much larger number of qubits, other significant innovations include lower operating temperature, reduced noise, and increased control circuitry precision. “Breaking the 1000 qubit barrier marks the culmination of years of research and development by our scientists, engineers and manufacturing team,” said D-Wave CEO Vern Brownell.

It is a critical step toward bringing the promise of quantum computing to bear on some of the most challenging technical, commercial, scientific, and national defense problems that organizations face.

Images from NASA and D-Wave Systems.

Giulio Prisco is a freelance writer specialized in science, technology, business and future studies.