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IBM Raises the Bar With 50-Qubit Quantum Computer

By Technology Review

November 13, 2017

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IBM last week announced a 50-quantum bit (qubit) quantum computer, as well as the availability of a 20-qubit system via its cloud computing platform.

The researchers say both systems preserve their quantum state for 90 microseconds, which constitutes an industry milestone, although it is still a very short duration.

IBM's Dario Gil notes the company's quantum cloud software upgrade shows that "we're at world-record pace. But we've got to make sure non-physicists can use this."

Meanwhile, University of Maryland professor Andrew Childs says IBM's 50-qubit breakthrough does not necessarily ensure a major computational jump. "Those qubits might be noisy, and there could be issues with how well connected they are," he notes.

Childs also says without studying the details of how the new quantum system functions, it is difficult to validate the researchers' assertions.

The IBM team suggests quantum systems bigger than 50 qubits can be modeled on conventional systems using clever mathematical techniques.

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