For the first time, IBM Research has thrown open public access to its new quantum processor via the IBM Cloud. Dubbed IBM Quantum Experience, this will provide users with the ability to experiment with individual quantum bits (qubits), process their own experiments, and run some of their own algorithms directly on IBM's quantum processor.
Though not a full-blown quantum computer (the IBM processor comprises just five superconducting qubits) it does represent the latest advances in IBM's quantum architecture that the company claims may one day scale up to create very much larger, more complex quantum processors and eventually lead to the development of a universal quantum computer. which could solve some of the problems that simply can't be solved using classical computers.
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"Quantum computers are very different from today's computers, not only in what they look like and are made of, but more importantly in what they can do," says Arvind Krishna, senior vice president and director, IBM Research. "Quantum computing is becoming a reality and it will extend computation far beyond what is imaginable with today's computers. This moment represents the birth of quantum cloud computing. By giving hands-on access to IBM's experimental quantum systems, the IBM Quantum Experience will make it easier for researchers and the scientific community to accelerate innovations in the quantum field, and help discover new applications for this technology."
Housed in the IBM T.J. Watson Research Center in New York, the processor uses five qubits formed by superconducting metals embedded on a silicon chip. As Gizmag reported last year, IBM researchers showed that breakthroughs in detecting quantum errors were possible by bringing superconducting qubits together in a lattice arrangement, and it is this quantum circuit design that is brought to bear in IBM's cloud-connected processor with advanced parity measurement error correction protocols.
Although universal quantum computers do not yet exist, IBM believes that medium-sized quantum processors of 50-100 qubits will be a reality within the next decade. A quantum computer created with just 50 qubits would already be more powerful than any of the world's top 500 supercomputers.
"It is a beautiful challenge to pursue the path to build the first universal quantum computer, but it requires us to change how we think about the world," says Dario Gil, vice president of science and solutions at IBM Research. "Access to early quantum computing prototypes will be key in imagining and developing future applications. If you want to understand what a true quantum computer will do for you and how it works, this is the place to do it. You won't experience it anywhere else."
Access to the IBM Quantum Experience is available here.
A video showing inside the IBM quantum computer area can be seen below.