After 14 years of research and development the first commercial quantum computer in history was launched this year by D-Wave Systems, Canada. The D-Wave One works with 128 qubits, has a volume of 10 cubic metres and comes with a scheduled price of 10.000.000 $. Until now D-Wave Systems officially sold only one computer. Not surprisingly this first customer [Lockheed Martin] comes from the military sector. One can assume that the Pentagon and the intelligence services also have a D-Wave One in their cellar.
As is well known the hypothetical computation power of quantum computers cannot be compared with that of classical processors. Due to superposition effects a quantum register with 128 maximally entangled qubits can represent 2^128 states at once. Yes, indeed, that’s a mind-blowing huge number.
There are physical impairments of course: Quantum superpositions are extremely prone to interference [see decoherence]. The slightest interaction with the environment leads to a collapse of the quantum system. Therefore the components of the D-Wave One have to be cooled down close to absolute zero. One technique that can be utilized in this cryogenic state is called adiabatic quantum computation [AQC]. This technology is supposed to be superior to classical processing when it comes to hard optimization problems [details here] and is applied in the D-Wave computers.
Will D-Wave Systems change the world in the next years? It’s at least their claim. And Jeff Bezos [CEO of Amazon] as well as Goldman Sachs are also believing in the potential of this enterprise, as they have invested large sums in D-Wave.
Well, dear reader, if you have some bucks left, you can of course also order your first quantum computer. Just write an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. For Amazon Prime clients shipping is free! 😉