IBM develops prototype 50 qubit processor

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IBM pointed out that quantum computing will have the ability to solve complex problems including chemical simulations and types of optimization. Thanks to improvements in superconducting qubit design, connectivity and packaging, IBM is upgrading its online machines to 20 qubit processors.

The 20 qubit processor has an average coherence time of 90 microseconds.

IBM said Friday it has created a prototype 50 qubit quantum computer. This new processor expands upon the 20 qubit architecture and will be made available in the next generation IBM Q systems. The current generation of quantum hardware devices based on superconnecting circuits and qubits matured alongside these early efforts with early work on cryogenic computing, which yielded a large boost in the qubits (and their stability) in 2010.

Much of the quantum computing hype of the last few years has centered on D-Wave, which has installed a number of functional systems and is hard at work making quantum programming more practical.

We have come a long way since the earliest days of quantum information theory, when IBM Fellow Charlie Bennett and the other quantum information science pioneers created the foundations that have given rise to a thriving scientific community. Only a year and a half ago, IBM was working with 5-qubit computers. Through the IBM Q experience, over 60,000 users have run over 1.7M quantum experiments and generated over 35 third-party research publications. "The holy grail is fault-tolerant universal quantum computing".

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In a statement, IBM said it "aims to demonstrate capabilities beyond today's classical systems" with quantum systems this size. "In prior years, the course was interesting theoretically, but felt like it described some far off future", said Andrew Houck, professor of electrical engineering, Princeton University. "Now, our enrollments are skyrocketing, drawing excitement from top students from a very wide range of disciplines".

IBM has also announced updates to their QISKit Quantum Experience so everyone else can try running quantum algorithms of their own. That may sound like a lot but really, we've barely scratched the surface of what's possible with quantum computers as our understanding of them is still quite rudimentary. "Simulators don't now capture the nuances of the actual quantum hardware platforms, and nothing is more convincing for a proof-of-concept than results obtained from an actual quantum processor". Google has offered science labs and artificial intelligence researchers early access to its quantum machines. He says that IBM researchers have managed to achieve the higher qubit number with low error rates, making them highly useful to researchers.

The announcement does not mean quantum computing is ready for common use.

The ultimate goal of quantum computing is a fault tolerant universal system that automatically fixes errors and has unlimited coherence. A replay of his talk will be added here, and shared on the IBM Research Facebook page, and Twitter handle. Founding members include Samsung, JSR, Honda, Hitachi Metals, Canon, and Nagase. Whereas classic computers encode information in regular "bits", represented by ones and zeros, quantum computers encode information in "qubits", which can be ones, zeros or both at the same time.