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D-Wave's 2,000-Qubit Quantum Annealing Computer Now 1,000x Faster Than Previous Generation

D-Wave chipset

D-Wave, a Canadian company developing the first commercial “quantum computer,” announced its next-generation quantum annealing computer with 2,000 qubits, which is twice as many as its previous generation had.

History Of D-Wave

D-Wave was created more than a decade ago, when it first developed a 16-qubit prototype. The company unveiled its 28-qubit version publicly for the first time in 2007. Since then, its increased its number of qubits at a steady pace, more than doubling every two years or so.

In 2013, the company announced its 512-qubit computer and a collaboration between Google and NASA, who were going to test various algorithms on it and see how fast it could get compared to conventional computers. Last year, D-Wave announced a 1,000-qubit generation, and now the company is previewing its 2,000-qubit computer, which will likely go on sale next year.

Criticism And Results

D-Wave has been criticized by many quantum computing experts, who, for one, say it’s not a true universal quantum computer (which Google itself and IBM are now building), and second, they don’t believe D-Wave’s “quantum annealing computer” is all that useful compared to standard computers.

A quantum annealing computer is a special-purpose quantum computer, so the difference between it and a universal quantum computer is kind of like the difference between an ASIC and a CPU. In theory, D-Wave’s computer should at least be useful for some optimization problems, where you have many variables and are trying to optimize for the best solution.

Last year, Google announced that its tests show that for quantum annealing tasks, D-Wave’s 1,000-qubit computer proved to be 100 million times faster than a classical computer with a single core:

"We found that for problem instances involving nearly 1,000 binary variables, quantum annealing significantly outperforms its classical counterpart, simulated annealing. It is more than 10^8 times faster than simulated annealing running on a single core," said Hartmut Neven, Google's Director of Engineering.

Even if you account for the fact that a D-Wave computer that costs $10 million is more than 10,000 times more expensive than a regular PC, you’re still left with a difference in performance of 10,000 times faster/dollar.

However, Google’s engineers also admitted that, for now, there aren’t too many practical uses for D-Wave’s technology, but that could change with future D-Wave generations.

The 2,000-Qubit D-Wave Computer

One highly exciting aspect of quantum computers of all types is that beyond the seemingly Moore’s Law-like increase in number of qubits every two years, their performance increases much more than just 2x, unlike with regular microprocessors. This is because qubits can hold a value of 0, 1, or a superposition of the two, making quantum systems able to deal with much more complex information.

If D-Wave's 2,000-qubit computer is now 1,000 faster than the previous 1,000-qubit generation (D-Wave 2X), that would mean that, for the things Google tested last year, it should now be 100 billion times faster than a single-core CPU.  

The new generation also comes with control features, which allows users to modify how D-Wave’s quantum system works to better optimize their solutions. These control features include the following capabilities:

The ability to tune the rate of annealing of individual qubits to enhance application performanceThe ability to sample the state of the quantum computer during the quantum annealing process to power hybrid quantum-classical machine learning algorithms that were not previously possibleThe ability to combine quantum processing with classical processing to improve the quality of both optimization and sampling results returned from the system.

D-Wave’s CEO, Vern Brownell, also said that D-Wave’s quantum computers could also be used for machine learning task in ways that wouldn’t be possible on classical computers. The company is also training the first generation of programmers to develop applications for D-Wave quantum systems.

More information about the new computer will be unveiled today at D-Wave’s first users conference in in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where representatives from Los Alamos National Laboratory, NASA, Lockheed Martin, the Roswell Park Cancer Center, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, USC, and D-Wave will be speaking.

  • targetdrone
    If D-Wave's 2,000-qubit computer is now 1,000 faster than the previous 1,000-qubit generation (D-Wave 2X), that would mean that, for the things Google tested last year, it should now be 100 billion times faster than a single-core CPU.


    and yet it still can't run Crisis.
    Reply
  • texastim65
    I'm curious as to whether breaking encryption is something that the qubit computer is designed for or can do.

    Being billions of times faster than conventional computers could mean breaking encryption becomes more practical for the NSA or anyone else able to afford it.
    Reply
  • leoscott
    Odds are NSA has something that will break encryption already. They generally don't talk about their good toys.
    Reply
  • For encryption, quantum computing doesn't really help. Time for a 512-bit key is still infinite. A quantum computer saves at most a squared amount of tries. So a 256 bit key would take an average of 2^127 tries, 2^128 tries to be sure, rather than 2^256 bit tries on regular computing.

    That's still about a billion billion years, or considerably longer than the age of the universe.

    People that claim you can "break encryption" just don't understand the math. You can break it by implementation issues, or other means, but not mathematically.
    Reply
  • Adr2t
    Well one factor is that key it self wouldn't be random though. Most people don't pick random passwords but passwords that have some English words in them - in theory - that cuts a good chunk of the guess work out.
    Reply
  • 18660930 said:
    Well one factor is that key it self wouldn't be random though. Most people don't pick random passwords but passwords that have some English words in them - in theory - that cuts a good chunk of the guess work out.

    But you can't predict where it cuts the guess work. That's the beauty of modern encryption.

    Unless you try directly the passwords. And that's all what modern hacking is, rotate the usernames using a fixed password. Not using various passwords for a same user. Someone in the group probably uses "Elv1s4ever", right?
    Reply
  • bit_user
    I noted the improvements in the description of these machines and what they're good at, Lucian. However:
    their performance increases much more than just 2x, unlike with regular microprocessors. This is because qubits can hold a value of 0, 1, or a superposition of the two, making quantum systems able to deal with much more complex
    No, it comes from the fact that each new qubit works in conjunction with all the others. So, the performance improvement should be exponential. Assuming they can still readily achieve and maintain entanglement.

    One thing I find so exciting about quantum computers is the kinds of optimization problems we'll be able to solve in areas like system and even mechanical design.
    Reply
  • I love how I'm being downvoted, by people that don't understand math. You're either O(n^(1/2)), or O(log(N)), which, in binary, is the same. More qubits don't help. Read a book.
    Reply
  • bit_user
    18661375 said:
    I love how I'm being downvoted, by people that don't understand math.
    I didn't down-vote you, because I'm no expert on this subject.

    But, since you dinged me, I'd like you to explain why a quantum computer of at least 512 qubits wouldn't be able to simultaneously try all keys. That's my understanding of how they work.

    Do you think Google is flat-out wrong, in their claims?
    Reply
  • 18661395 said:
    18661375 said:
    I love how I'm being downvoted, by people that don't understand math.
    I didn't down-vote you, because I'm no expert on this subject.

    But, since you dinged me, I'd like you to explain why a quantum computer of at least 512 qubits wouldn't be able to simultaneously try all keys. That's my understanding of how they work.

    Do you think Google is flat-out wrong, in their claims?

    What Google claim? Search "Shor's algorithm", or "Post-quantum cryptography". Basically, some calculations are extremely faster. Some, including prime numbers, not so much.

    IMO, if it's number theory related, don't expect "exponentially faster" solutions. I wish they existed, but, it's so basic, it doesn't yield.
    Reply