Canadian quantum computing company D-Wave has announced the commercial availability of its D-Wave 2000Q, touted to have 2,000 qubits and a $15 million price tag. And now the mean machine — an upgrade from the previous 1,000-qubit quantum annealer — has its first customer already lined up.
The said first customer, cybersecurity firm Temporal Defense Systems, will use the computer in its bid to “revolutionize secure communications,” shield against insider threats, and help identify cyberfoes and attack patterns.
New-Gen Quantum Computer In Focus
“[It] will be used with TDS technology to solve some of the most critical and complex cybersecurity problems impacting governments and commercial enterprises,” D-Wave announced in a statement, adding that the agreement includes upgrades to upcoming D-Wave quantum processing units.
TDS chief technology officer James Burrell, a former FBI official, said combining a quantum computer’s capabilities with advanced cyber security technologies will better prevent and address cyberattacks and “deliver the highest level of security.”
2000Q is the company’s fourth-generation machine, and is mostly the product of researcher feedback. Existing computers are situated in the United States but can be accessed remotely through different schemes like USRAs. Just last September, about 100 scientists attended the company’s first users’ conference held in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
D-Wave is also focusing on a fifth model, likely to launch in two years and will also double the number of qubits to about 4,000. In addition, it will offer doubly complex connections between qubits, letting it work on more intricate challenges.
The computers harness a process called quantum annealing. Here, scientists put qubits into their lowest energy state, where each is in an “on” and “off” quantum superposition. Magnetic fields representing the problem then mildly nudge this state onto a new one.
Most Powerful, Or Not Really?
When they came out six years earlier, D-Wave machines attracted both excitement and skepticism. For instance, their qubits are easier to build than what’s found in more traditional quantum computers, but their quantum states are also more sensitive and the manipulation less precise.
The question: Can D-wave machines help address real-world issues exponentially quicker than classical computers?
Nature notes, though, that these systems work well with issues designed to run on them, and stuff not designed to the systems’ capabilities may not be the right fit.
“So although scientists now agree that D-Wave devices do use quantum phenomena in their calculations,” the journal observes, “some doubt that they can ever be used to solve real-world problems exponentially faster than classical computers — however many qubits are clubbed together, and whatever their configuration."
But there seems to be no stopping D-Wave in its lofty goals now. Its senior vice president for systems Jeremy Hilton, for one, said the fifth processor will significantly increase connectivity, and will pursue a hardware overhaul that will allow D-Wave to expand more than the 10,000-qubit limitation slapped by the current processor design in future devices.
As for its supposedly supreme algorithm, he believes that the company this year will demonstrate a certain computation that would be impossible for the most powerful classical supercomputer – a mission dubbed as “quantum supremacy.”