Chinese online retail giant Alibaba has joined hands with the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) to build Alibaba Quantum Computing Laboratory in Shanghai. They will jointly develop quantum computers that can process data at speed billions of times faster than current digital computers. The new laboratory is expected to develop a general-purpose quantum computer prototype with 50-100 quantum bits by 2030, the state-run Xinhua news agency said.
Alibaba expects high demand for cloud computing in Shanghai
Scientists said the new lab would combine the CAS’ strength in quantum computing and artificial intelligence with Alibaba’s prowess in cloud computing and traditional computing. Pan Jianwei, a leading researcher at the lab and vice president of University of Science and Technology of China, said the lab would come up in Shanghai as Alibaba was expecting high demand for quantum computing from the megacity’s financial sector.
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Unlike traditional processors, quantum processors use quantum bits that can hold values of 0 and 1 simultaneously. It allows them to perform many more calculations at the same time. The new quantum computing lab will work to bolster security of e-commerce platforms and their data centers. Internet security is a major strategic focus for Alibaba that operates data centers running e-commerce sites and its Aliyun cloud computing arm.
Alibaba expanding its cloud footprint
U.S. tech giants such as Microsoft, Google and IBM are working on their own quantum computers. Practical applications of quantum computing are still years away, but cryptography and cybersecurity will likely be the major focus, reports Fortune. The deal with CAS comes at a time when Alibaba is aggressively expanding its cloud business outside China.
Earlier this week, Alibaba announced that it would invest $1 billion to fuel the growth of its Aliyun cloud business. Currently, Aliyun has data centers in China, the U.S., and Hong Kong. The Hangzhou-based company plans to open new data centers in Singapore, the Middle-East, Europe, and Japan. Aliyun will also develop new cloud and big data solutions that would help its customers boost productivity and reduce costs.
Alibaba shares fell 0.83% to $79.30 in early trading Friday.