Technology heavyweight IBM has made a bold move. The company has made its quantum computing available to anyone as a cloud service. Interested people can access the 5 qubits online simulator called IBM Quantum Experience to run quantum experiments. Quantum computing is still in its infancy, but IBM is hoping to accelerate the advancement by making it available to researchers, institutions, and the broader community.

IBM Quantum Computing

Access IBM’s quantum processor for free

The quantum computer in question is located at the IBM Research Lab in New York state. The company, through its cloud service, is providing a programming interface and the ability to test applications and run experiments. Most people won’t recognize the machine as a computer, and it doesn’t run Windows. But IBM believes opening it up to the public will pave the way for future advancements.

IBM’s quantum computer has a processing power of 5 qubits. Though D-Wave has already made a quantum computer available, it is used by only a handful of large corporations like Google and Lockheed Martin. While D-Wave’s system can perform only a few specific tasks, IBM’s hardware can run more varied tasks. Jay Gambetta, the manager of quantum computing theory at IBM, said people can access it for free. Scientists and academics are likely to be the first people to use the quantum processor.

Quantum computing requires special cooling techniques

Quantum computers require enormous cooling systems. IBM’s quantum processor is placed in a special “cryogenic dilution refrigerator.” Quantum computers have the potential to be significantly faster than modern PCs and servers. But a quantum computer needs to run between 50 and 100 qubits to surpass the fastest super computers available today. IBM hopes to build a quantum computer with 50 to 100 qubits within the next decade.

Conventional systems work on binary principles where opening/closing semiconductor gates represent 0/1 or on/off. In contrast, quantum computers use qubits that can be on, off, or both at the same time. It allows the systems to perform much more complex calculations than today’s fastest supercomputers can. However, quantum computing is highly unstable as the behavior or state of qubits is difficult to predict once they start interacting in a calculation.