Google and NASA will Install Latest D-Wave 2,000-Qubit Quantum Computer at Ames
Last week, D-Wave Systems announced that Google, NASA, and the Universal Research Association (USRA) chose to upgrade the present quantum annealer computing systeminstalled in NASA’s Ames Research Center to the new D-Wave 2000Q platform. In the past, Ames relied on the D-Wave 2X system that they started to use in August of 2015. The new 2000Q model started with the quantum computing scene just in January of this year that packs 2,000 qubits. That nearly doubles the number of qubits provided by the previous 2X-branded generation.
Just a bit of refresher knowledge if you hated your Physics subject in high school and college. A qubit is short for a quantum bit. This is the unit for quantum information. It’s very different from a standard binary bit because the state of a qubit can be zero, one, or a superposition of those two states. A standard binary bit can only be zero or one. The superposition aspect is part of quantum mechanics that shows that any two or more distinct quantum states can be added together to create another valid quantum state. If compared to food, try to imagine a qubit state to be both a bagel and a slice of pizza at the same time.
For the future, quantum computing is the next big step in the evolution of computing on a large scale. It’s based on the use of quantum particles that can exist in multiple states at the same time. This increases the overall computation power as well as the ability to become entangled with each other. This provides parallel processing that can cut down on any overall computing time. This means that quantum computers can solve problems that can take a longer time for traditional bit-based computers to complete.
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According to D-Wave CEO Vern Brownell, “The new system will be the third generation of D-Wave technology installed at Ames. We are pleased that Google, NASA, and USRA value the increased performance embodied in our latest generation of technology, the D-Wave 2000Q system, for their critical applications.” The biggest challenge to using quantum computing is that it needs extreme environment conditions. The processor alone needs to be in a high vacuum with pressure that should be at least 10 billion times lower than the earth’s atmosphere. The qubits must also be cooled by temperatures close to zero to harness the quantum’s effects.
For the good part, an overall quantum computing system like the D-Wave 2000Q only consumes less than 25 kilowatts of electricity. But if you were to look at a quantum computer, you won’t see a traditional CPU; instead everything is enclosed in a sealed cycle dilution refrigerator that is also needed to shield it from the Earth’s magnetic field that can play havoc on qubits. The actual installation of the new quantum computer at Ames will take place later this year. It will be used to address challenges NASA faces by utilizing quantum computing approaches for artificial intelligence algorithms.