November 19, 2007 D-Wave Systems put its 28 qubits quantum computer on display in an online demonstration at last week's Supercomputing 2007 conference. Showcasing an image matching application developed with a third party collaborator, the machine has been built to improve the performance of existing applications, open up opportunities for new applications and expand the market for high-performance computers.

The company introduced its revolutionary 16 qubit machine last February in Silicon Valley, California. “Advancing the machine to 28 qubits in such a short space of time lends credibility to our claim of having a scaleable architecture,” stated Herb Martin, D-Wave’s CEO. “Our product roadmap takes us to 512 qubits in the second quarter of 2008 and 1024 qubits by the end of that year. At this point we will see applications performance far superior to that available on classical digital machines.”

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D-Wave plans to deploy the machine, code named “Orion”, in the last quarter of 2008 using an on-line service model and providing support for applications involving pattern matching, constrained search and optimization. D-Wave says that in June 2009 the on-line quantum computing service will be available for “Monte Carlo” simulation targeted at pricing and risk analysis in the Banking and Insurance community. This will be followed by a quantum simulation capability for chemical, material and life science applications.

D-Wave’s quantum computer hardware is supported by a software system that shields the user from the complexities of the system. “Ease of use was a primary factor in the design of our software system,” said Dr. Bill Macready, D-Wave vice president of software systems and products. “The software is designed such that existing applications may be adapted rapidly through the use of industry standard application programming interfaces. New applications may be written using the universally adopted SQL with the addition of a proprietary extension. Interfaces for scientists wishing to program at the machine language level are also available,” he said.

Users of the on-line service will come from government, military, academia, research, engineering, life sciences and the manufacturing, banking and insurance, according to Martin. “Today, many applications take inordinate amounts of time to develop solutions and accuracy is often sacrificed for timeliness. Our on-line service will provide a cost effective means to improve these applications so that more accurate solutions can be obtained in a significantly shorter time period. In addition, some potential applications are never undertaken because of the limits inherent in digital computing. D-Wave will open up satisfactory solutions to these so called intractable problems,” said Martin.