IBM puts 20-qubit quantum computer in the cloud

A 50-qubit quantum machine will be integrated into next-gen IBM Q

IBM plans to offer its 20-qubit quantum computer as a cloud-based service by the end of the year, allowing businesses to take advantage of the power of the super-processors without needing to invest in the hardware.

Customers will be able to take advantage of the machine to process quantum algorithms in as little as 90 microseconds, IBM said. But Big Blue explained it has also built a fully-operational prototype 50-qubit processor, and while it's not ready for release yet, IBM said it will integrate it into the next generation of IBM Q systems.

"We are, and always have been, focused on building technology with the potential to create value for our clients and the world," said Dario Gil, vice president of AI and IBM Q at IBM Research.

"The ability to reliably operate several working quantum systems and putting them online was not possible just a few years ago. Now, we can scale IBM processors up to 50 qubits due to tremendous feats of science and engineering. These latest advances show that we are quickly making quantum systems and tools available that could offer an advantage for tackling problems outside the realm of classical machines."

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Over the next 12 months, IBM's engineers and data scientists will continue developing its devices, including upping quality of qubits, circuit connectivity, and reducing error rates of operations to run more advanced quantum algorithms.

"Being able to work on IBM's quantum hardware and have access through an open source platform like QISKit has been crucial in helping us to understand what algorithms and real-world use cases might be viable to run on near-term processors," said Matt Johnson, CEO, QC Ware.

"Simulators don't currently capture the nuances of the actual quantum hardware platforms, and nothing is more convincing for a proof-of-concept than results obtained from an actual quantum processor."

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