The Quantum Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, NASA’s “hub” for assessing the potential of quantum computers, will receive a new addition to its already powerful assortment of hardware. The project, a joint collaboration between Google, NASA and the Universities Space Research Association, will be the end product of a multiyear agreement that will install the D-Wave 2X quantum processor.
INTRODUCING THE D-WAVE 2X QUANTUM PROCESSOR
The state-of-the-art technology is the most powerful computer of its kind, with over 1,000 qubits, according to The Verge. Due to the nature of its processor, the machine is only capable of operating at extremely cold temperatures – usually around 15 millikelvin. For comparison’s sake, that’s colder than space.
D-Wave Systems Inc. is the world’s first quantum computing company, based in British Columbia, Canada. The new upgrade will tackle optimization problems that are encountered in developing artificial intelligence and aeronautics technologies. According to Vern Brownell, the CEO of D-Wave, the machine will be “the largest order in D-Wave’s history, and indicative of the importance of quantum computing in its evolution toward solving problems that are difficult for even the largest supercomputers.”
The previous generation of the D-Wave 2 system was installed at NASA Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California. Since 2013, the 500-qubit computer has been used by scientists at Google, NASA, and USRA. The new technology, however, will nearly double its predecessor’s capability.
QUANTUM COMPUTING AND ITS IMPLICATIONS
According to NASA QuAIL, quantum computing could potentially solve a problem in a few days, whereas traditional computers might take millions of years to handle the same task. Its computational system relies on quantum bits or qubits, which can represent a zero, a one or both values simultaneously. Classical computers, on the other hand, utilize bits that must have a value of zero or one.
Quantum computing could drastically impact the future of web search, air-traffic management and space travel, among other domains. However, D-Wave’s approach to quantum computing thus far has not yielded significant evidence of an “exponential increase in computing power,” known as “quantum speedup.” Regardless, the new machine will undergo some testing.