LAKE WALES, Fla. — IBM's quantum computer — free online as IBM's Q — is going commercial at the Supercomputing Conference 2017 this week in Denver.
Q's now time-proven capabilities, attained from the free trial period, will still be cloud hosted with a ready-to-go 20-qubit version and a 50-qubit prototype that demonstrates how to solve NP Hard (non-deterministic polynomial-time hard) problems impossible for the fastest supercomputer today.
IBM will also provide an open-source quantum information software kit (QIS-Kit). The key to its QIS-Kit is you don't need a quantum computer to compose and debug your quantum application software, but can prove its correctness first on a conventional computer. Once debugged, the software can be assured to achieve its desired goals with NP-Hard problems. In fact, IBM claims over 60,000 users have beta-tested and debugged their QIS-Kit on over 1.7 million quantum application programs.
IBM's quantum computer in the cloud free to use for all comers. Source: IBM
IBM will also be displaying at SC 2017 specialty programs built for simulating chemical reactions on quantum computers, for everything from new catalyst development to drug discovery. It claims the key to its success was perfecting error-detecting fault tolerance code for that work on prototypes with up to 56-qubits.
In more detail, IBM's Q Systems cannot attain coherence times (the time before the quantum states relax into an answer) of over 90 microseconds, allowing their 20-to-50 qubit systems the time to solve extremely complex applications impossible for conventional supercomputers.
IBM first launched its first free-to-try cloud-based working 5-to-16 qubit quantum computer in May 2016, and now just 18 months has upgraded the IBM Q experience to 20-qubits with 50-qubits next in line. IBM's 60,000 beta-testers included 1,500 universities, 300 high schools and 300 private-sector participants.
IBM Data Science Experience, a compiler that maps desired experiments onto the available hardware, has worked examples of quantum applications. It has also worked quantum computing concepts and application development principles into its QISKit tutorials. And besides its chemistry simulations for development of new catalysts and drug discovery, the tutorials also provided implementation details for optimization problems.
IBM describes Q as an industry-first initiative to build commercially available universal quantum computing systems for business and science applications. For more information about IBM’s quantum computing efforts, visit www.ibm.com/ibmq.
— R. Colin Johnson, Advanced Technology Editor, EE Times