D-Wave Systems releases most powerful quantum computer

Posted on 2 Oct 2016 by Michael Cruickshank

US-based computer manufacturer D-Wave Systems last week announced their most powerful quantum computer yet.

The new quantum computer contains a more capable 2000 qubit processor, a substantial increase from its predecessor the D-Wave 2X which contained a 1152 qubit processor.

This 2000 qubit processor, according the company, will make the computer approximately 1000 times faster than the D-Wave 2X.

Unlike classical computers, which rely on ones and zeros (bits), quantum computers use qubits (or quantum bits) which can exist in several states at once through a phenomenon called ‘superposition’.

D-Wave is currently the only company which markets such computers, and positions them as a specialist tool for business-focused computer modelling.

Specifically, quantum computers should theoretically have the ability to solve certain equations (such as optimization problems) much faster than traditional architectures. In addition certain kinds of encryption could be broken much faster through the use of a quantum computer.

“As the only company to have developed and commercialized a scalable quantum computer, we’re continuing our record of rapid increases in the power of our systems,” said Jeremy Hilton, senior vice president of systems at D-Wave.

Already the company has secured sales to major companies and government departments including Lockheed Martin and Google.

“Our growing user base provides real world experience that helps us design features and capabilities that provide quantifiable benefits,” said Hilton.

A quantum controversy

While D-Wave itself claims to be the first company on the market selling quantum computers, its work, and indeed its computers are highly controversial.

Many researchers within the field believe that D-Wave’s approach to the technology, which it calls ‘quantum annealing’ is not true quantum computing.

Specifically, D-Wave’s detractors argue that a number of peer reviewed tests of D-Wave’s quantum processors do not demonstrate a significant ‘speedup’ when working on problems which should be faster for a quantum computer.

Nonetheless, alternative studies have also claimed to show that these computers do infact make use of quantum processes.

What is clear however is that D-Wave is still pushing ahead with its ideas, claiming to be ‘a decade ahead’ of its competition.