Google wants a new era of data crunching to come soon, for which it has developed a quantum super-computing system. On Tuesday, outsiders got the first look at the experimental D-Wave computer developed in partnership with NASA and the non-profit Universities Space Research Association.
Google claims it to be very fast
For the past two years, Google and its partners have been conducting experiments on this cutting edge technology. Air traffic control and desalination plant operations are some hugely complex problems involving a huge amount of data, and the Internet firm and its partners aim to develop a better way to solve these problems.
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Housed at NASA’s Ames research center near Mountain View, Calif., this computing system appears very similar to a giant black utility box filled with one quantum computing chip and a giant refrigeration system, according to researchers. Several pumps have been deployed to help keep the system at near absolute-zero degrees.
Quantum bits or qubits are particles that exist in more than two states at the same time, and quantum computing relies on this notion. The silicon chip transistors used in traditional computers are either turned on or off, but a qubit can be both at the same time. This helps in making more powerful computers with work speeds faster than the ones generally used.
“It is more than 108 times faster than simulated annealing running on a single core,” Google said in a blog post.
Not a true quantum computer
Some scientists claim the machine is not a true quantum computer. Though it does make use of some quantum computing technology, it fails to entirely meet their definition because of the limited range of problems it can solve. Conventional computers have trouble calculating and take a lot of time to solve complex problems, but both Google and NASA are making joint efforts to address the issue.
Another issue is the commercialization of quantum computing, which is still in the experimental stages. Deputy Director of exploration technology at NASA Ames Rupak Biswas said that it is not a commercial product that can be bought from a shopping mall and used for texting and Facetime.
“If quantum computing were to work, it is truly a disruptive technology and it could change how we do everything, almost,” Biswas said. “No company would like to be left behind, in some sense.”