Google researchers announced on Tuesday that the D-Wave quantum computer, which the company bought back in 2013, is actually working.
According to Hartmut Neven, who spearheads the company’s Quantum Artificial Intelligence (AI) Labs in Los Angeles, the team has set up several “races” between the quantum computer and a single-processor traditional computer.
The results of the “races” were astounding, Neven stated.
“For a specific, carefully crafted proof-of-concept problem we achieve a 100-million-fold speed-up,” said Neven.
This is Where The Google Quantum Computer is Developed
These tests were all conducted at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Ames campus in Mountain View, California. Since acquiring the quantum computer in 2013, Google has worked closely with both NASA and D-Wave in developing the revolutionary device.
The quantum computer operates using quantum mechanics, which is a field of science that primarily deals with the way atoms and other tiny particles work.
Quantum computing works by using qubits, which can represent zero, one, or both values. This characteristic of the qubit is also referred to as “superposition,” which enables the quantum device to compute more tasks simultaneously.
What is Quantum Computing?
In comparison, a bit from a traditional computer can only have either zero or one as its possible values, resulting in a limited capacity to process multiple data at once.
Google said in the announcement that they tried to present a complex task for the D-Wave computer to solve, and it managed to solve it within a second. In contrast, the company said that it would have taken a traditional computer 10,000 years to solve the same problem.
The search engine giant is reportedly banking on the development of the quantum computer in order to help it process loads of information that its numerous traditional computers are unable to.
Google currently uses advanced AI technology to help its users with image and voice recognition tools, which helps a lot in most Google services. However, these calculations are done using thousands of interlinked traditional computers.
The company aims to use quantum computers to solve seemingly unsolvable problems, process massive amounts of data, and venture into other industries.
NASA, on the other hand is also optimistic that the quantum computer can help in future space exploration missions, including simulations, scheduled rocket launches, etc.
“It is a truly disruptive technology that could change how we do everything,” said Rupak Biswas, the director of NASA’s Ames Research Center.
Biswas: If #quantumcomputing works how we hope, it would be a very disruptive technology. It would change how computing is done.
— NAS Supercomputing (@NASA_NAS) December 8, 2015
Unfortunately, while the potential of the D-Wave 2X quantum computer is definitely there, it will take Google a lot more time to include abilities that can allow the computer to process day-to-day tasks for commercial purposes.
“I would say building a quantum computer is really, really hard, so first of all, we’re just trying to get it to work and not worry about cost or size or whatever,” said John Martinis, who leads Google’s hardware program and is also a physics professor at the University of California in Santa Barbara.
John Giannandrea, Google’s VP of engineering, also said that the company is now encountering problems because there are some problems that traditional computers simply cannot solve.
Nevertheless, Giannandrea sees the quantum computer as a technology that Google can use for its products and services in the years to come.
Dubbed as “the world’s first commercial quantum computer,” the first D-Wave quantum computer faced skepticism among physicists and even researchers who were unable to verify if the computer indeed runs using quantum physics.
Meet the First Google Quantum Computer: The D-Wave 2x
However, the success of the tests just proves that it is possible to harness such methods in advancing technology.
D-Wave, which is based in Burnaby in Canada, has also sold quantum computers to Lockheed Martin and the Los Alaminos Laboratory.
Meanwhile, other big companies that are following in the footsteps of the Google quantum computer include Microsoft and IBM.
[Image via YouTube]