Business computing behemoth IBM has announced the launch of a five-qubit quantum processor, which it is making freely accessible as a cloud computing service to encourage research and experimentation on quantum computing topics.
Dubbed the IBM Quantum Experience, the new cloud-based system provide public access to a new quantum processor located in IBM's T.J. Watson Research Centre in New York. The latest step along the path to producing a universal quantum computer, a system which can hold bits in superposition as a means of dramatically speeding up selected computing tasks, IBM's processor features five quantum bits, or qubits, with the company working towards 50-qubit implementations within the next decade - and while that may not sound too impressive, the company has claimed that a 50-qubit quantum processor would be so advanced no traditional supercomputer available today would come close to emulating its performance
'Quantum computers are very different from today’s computers, not only in what they look like and are made of, but more importantly in what they can do. Quantum computing is becoming a reality and it will extend computation far beyond what is imaginable with today’s computers,
' claimed Arvind Krishna, senior vice president and director at IBM Research, of the company's work. 'This moment represents the birth of quantum cloud computing. By giving hands-on access to IBM’s experimental quantum systems, the IBM Quantum Experience will make it easier for researchers and the scientific community to accelerate innovations in the quantum field, and help discover new applications for this technology.
While IBM's quantum processor may be the most advanced accessible to the public, it's not the first: back in 2013 the University of Bristol opened its own two-qubit quantum processor to the public
, with a simulator
to trial experiments prior to running them on the actual hardware. IBM's Quantum Experience, meanwhile, can be accessed via the offical website