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D-Wave is trying to bring quantum computing out of the research lab. This is one of its chips.
It's been a busy time in quantum computing: IBM announced its biggest quantum computer so far, and Google reportedly has cracked a problem with its quantum computer faster than a conventional computer could. Now D-Wave, a rival with a different approach to the technology, has announced that nuclear weapons research site Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) is the first customer for its next-generation machine.
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Quantum computers are a totally different breed of machine than the classical computers that power everything from your smartphone to Amazon's vast e-commerce operation. Quantum computers rely on the weird physics of the very small to perform calculations classical machines can't solve -- at least in principle. So far, the technology is very, very experimental.
If all goes as planned, though, quantum computers could open up new computing territory even as engineers struggle to wring more performance out of conventional machines.
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Researchers at Google, IBM, Microsoft, Intel and Rigetti Computing are focusing on building universal quantum computers -- machines that can tackle any computing problem. D-Wave, though, has a different approach called annealing that's limited to a much narrower range of problems. For example, annealers can't tackle the most famous quantum computing party trick, the ability to crack today's encryption technology.
To be fair, universal quantum computers can't yet, either, because they don't have enough qubits -- the fundamental unit of quantum computing data storage and processing. And those qubits aren't stable enough, despite the fact that quantum computers run only a hair's breadth away from absolute zero, the coldest possible temperature. There's work afoot to pave over that instability with error correction technology, but that requires more qubits, so it's not an easy...
(Excerpt) Read more at: CNET
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