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IBM Quantum Processors Unveiled, Promising New Capabilities

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By Clyde Hughes   |   Thursday, 18 May 2017 09:40 AM

IBM announced Wednesday a breakthrough in its quantum processors, creating two computing systems that could lead to a significant leap in what computers can do today.

The 16-quibit processor and a 17-quibit prototype commercial processor for the IBM Q, are expected to build a foundation to solve problems in business and science that are being tackled by the currently available 5-quibit processors, IBM said in a statement Wednesday.

"The significant engineering improvements announced today will allow IBM to scale future processors to include 50 or more qubits, and demonstrate computational capabilities beyond today's classical computing systems," Arvind Krishna, senior vice president and director of IBM Research and Hybrid Cloud said in the company's statement.

"These powerful upgrades to our quantum systems, delivered via the IBM Cloud, allow us to imagine new applications and new frontiers for discovery that are virtually unattainable using classical computers alone," Krishna continued.

IBM hopes to discover new uses for the technology and having it be more accessible beyond specialized groups such as major businesses, research facilities, and government research, tech website Engadget.com noted.

IBM said in its statement that its 16-quibit processor will allow for more complex experimentation than what is currently available and will be accessible for developers, programmers and researchers to run quantum algorithms, work with individual quantum bits, and explore tutorials and simulations.

The 17-qubit processor will be twice as powerful as what is available to the public on the IBM Cloud and it will be the basis for the first IBM Q early access commercial systems.

"Quantum systems may untangle the complexity of molecular and chemical interactions leading to the discovery of new medicines and materials," said a statement from IBM. "They may enable ultra-efficient logistics and supply chains, such as optimizing fleet operations for deliveries during the holiday season.

"They may help us find new ways to model financial data and isolate key global risk factors to make better investments. And they may make facets of artificial intelligence such as machine learning much more powerful," the statement continued.

TechCrunch enterprise reporter Ron Miller said in March when IBM updated in Quantum Experience Cloud that the industry is just scratching the surface in quantum computing.

"Although we are years away from exploiting the full abilities of quantum computing, all of this is designed to advance the field to get to a point sometime in the future when we have a 50-100 qubit system," Miller said.

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IBM announced a breakthrough in its quantum processors, creating two computing systems that could lead to a significant leap in what computers can do today.
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