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IBM Q Network Opens Up Quantum Computing to Researchers, Businesses

IBM is taking a major step with bringing quantum computing into the mainstream with a new project called Q Network, which will give businesses, government agencies and research universities access to Big Blue's quantum systems.

JPMorgan Chase, Daimler AG, Samsung Corp. , Oak Ridge National Lab and Oxford University are among some of the enterprises and other organizations that are joining IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM) Q Networks.

These businesses, agencies and universities will now have access to IBM's 20 qubit quantum computer. Big Blue also has plans to construct a 50 qubit system and supporting processors.

A quantum computing system to call your own
(Source: IBM)
A quantum computing system to call your own
(Source: IBM)

As part of the new Q Network, IBM and its partners are planning to build four regional quantum computing hubs, which includes one each in Japan, the US, the United Kingdom and Australia.

As of Thursday, IBM notes that over 60,000 users have run about 1.7 million quantum experiments through its Q Experience program.

With its long traditional in building supercomputers and other high-performance computing systems -- think of the days of Road Runner and the Blue Gene family -- it's not surprising that IBM is plunging head-first into quantum computing. (See IBM's Quantum Computing Coming to the Cloud.)

Quantum computing uses quantum mechanics to create the computation power of a massively parallel supercomputer. Unlike traditional computing, which is based on binary 1s and 0s, quantum computing uses quantum bits -- qubits -- that can represent 0, 1 or both numbers at the same time.

Results of calculations may change from run to run based on the quantum state, so the same calculation will be performed millions of times, with the final answer being the result that occurred most frequently. Qubits allow the machine to run multiple calculations at the same time, making the computers able to perform tasks much faster than traditional CPUs.

"IBM sees the next few years as the dawn of the commercial quantum era -- a formative period when quantum computing technology and its early use cases develop rapidly," Dario Gil, vice president of AI and IBM Q at IBM Research, wrote in the December 14 announcement. "The IBM Q Network will serve as a vehicle to make quantum computing more accessible to businesses and organizations through access to the most advanced IBM Q systems and quantum ecosystem."

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The other big tech firm that sees a future in quantum computing is Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT), which released its own developer kit and a new programming language called Q# this week to allow developers to create simulations. (See Microsoft Releases Quantum Development Kit & Programming Language.)

IBM offers a similar set of developer tools through its QISKit kit.

When it comes to the new Q Network members, the different companies and organizations plan to focus on their particular area of expertise. For instance, Daimler is planning to research new ways of developing materials to manufacture automobiles. The company is also planning on using quantum computing to develop autonomous cars, as well as how to better route fleet logistics.

At Oxford, researchers will run different experiments related to physics, as well developing new types of artificial intelligence.

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— Scott Ferguson, Editor, Enterprise Cloud News. Follow him on Twitter @sferguson_LR.

Michelle 12/31/2017 | 10:25:35 PM
future now This is an exciting development! I've been waiting for quantum computing to open up to more folks. This is how we'll finally get a clear picture of what can be done (or at least closer to it). The promise of quantum computing is fascinating. Real-world applications should be very interesting. I'm looking forward to future updates of this project.
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