IBM launches first integrated quantum computer

Mindy Sparks
January 11, 2019

While classic computers encode information in bits with a value of either 1 or 0, quantum computers use qubits that can be in both states at the same time, a quality that theoretically allows for significantly more computing power. It is called IBM Q System One and is now not for sale, but will allow customers to use it on the Internet to perform quantum calculations. The system relies on qubits and needs a cold and stable environment to work. The components include quantum hardware created to be stable and auto-calibrated to give repeatable and predictable high-quality qubits; cryogenic engineering that delivers a continuous cold and isolated quantum environment; high precision electronics in compact form factors to tightly control large numbers of qubits; quantum firmware to manage the system health and enable system upgrades without downtime for users; and classical computation to provide secure cloud access and hybrid execution of quantum algorithms.

The design of IBM Q System One includes a nine-foot-tall, nine-foot-wide case of half-inch thick borosilicate glass forming a sealed, airtight enclosure that opens using "roto-translation".

The package is called as the IBM Q system and it is basically a huge set up which includes nearly everything which a company could ever want from a quantum computer and its working and all the necessary tools for quantum computing are there.

IBM has a replica of the Q System One on display at CES.

IBM Q is an initiative to build commercial universal quantum systems for business and science applications.

A series of independent aluminium and steel frames decouple the system's cryostat, control electronics and exterior casing, helping to isolate the system components for improved performance. The company in 2017 unveiled a 5-qubit system and also has made a 20-qubit system available via the IBM Cloud.

ExxonMobil, CERN, Argonne National Laboratory, Fermilab, and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory join the IBM Q Network. The age of the current PCs and super computers are starting to reach their limits and, I'm not saying now, but maybe in the next 50 years this limit will be reached making quantum computers their successor. The IBM system has its own Quantum firmware that will manage the system health and enable system upgrades without downtime.

"You'll see real business clients doing real things that are really of value in a two- to five-year timeframe", Rometty said in an interview on CNBC. The tech giant also notes that its system - which includes reinforced chambers to hold the qubits, tanks of liquid helium to keep the quantum bits at just above absolute zero, around -460 Fahrenheit, and racks of high precision electronics all tied together by hundreds of yards of cabling to control qubit action - aims to address one of the most challenging aspects of quantum computing, "coherence time". "Protection from this interference is one of many reasons why quantum computers and their components require careful engineering and isolation", IBM said in a statement.

Gartner analysts, who put quantum computing on their list of top 10 strategic technology trends for 2019, said that while companies in such industries will see significant benefits from quantum computing, most enterprises will continue in the exploration phase through 2022.

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