Google quantum computer is now 100m times faster than yours

9 Dec 2015

D-Wave 2X quantum computer image via D-Wave Systems

As you read this, you can rest easy, safe in the knowledge that the Google quantum computer, the D-Wave 2X, is now 100m-times faster at doing anything your conventional computer could ever do.

The Google quantum computer is a melding of some of the brightest minds in Google, NASA and the leading quantum computer producer D-Wave Systems and has now been fine-tuned to achieve computational power that has never been seen before by researchers.

Aside from having a cool name, the quantum computer is the next evolutionary stage of computing, with the key to its power being the quantum bit, or qubit.

Rather than using conventional bits seen in the computers and phones we use in our everyday lives, which work off the binary system of ones and zeroes, a quantum bit has the added ability to be a one, zero or both.

With this, its ability to speed through problem solving is simply unmatched when compared to conventional binary computers.

Announcing the news in a blog post, Google’s Quantum Artificial Intelligence Lab announced that it has published a paper detailing how the D-Wave Systems quantum computer it is using is now 100m times faster than conventional computers.

A long, long way to go

To track this, the Google researchers compared its quantum testing method – quantum annealing – with that of standard computational testing called simulated annealing.

“We found that for problem instances involving nearly 1000 binary variables, quantum annealing significantly outperforms its classical counterpart, simulated annealing,” the post said. “It is more than 108 times faster than simulated annealing running on a single core.”

Of course, as is the case with such advanced, mind-boggling technology, it’s early days yet, with the Google researchers saying “there is more work ahead to turn quantum enhanced optimisation into a practical technology.”

The researchers did, however, lay out what they want to achieve in the coming years.

“We would like to increase the density and control precision of the connections between the qubits as well as their coherence,” the post said. “Another enhancement we wish to engineer is to support the representation not only of quadratic optimisation, but of higher order optimisation as well.”

Basically, don’t expect to have a quantum computer in the home anytime soon, but in the last two years there have been noticeable achievements made, such as last year, when two separate teams achieved a quantum computing accuracy reading of 99pc.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic