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IBM Announces New and Improved 53-Qubit Quantum Computer

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IBM announced a brand new quantum computer along with a new quantum computing center in New York. The new quantum computer comes with more than twice as many qubits (53 total) than its previous quantum computer (20 qubits) and supposedly with exponentially higher performance, since the performance of quantum computers grows exponentially with the number of qubits.

The new computer will be the largest commercially available quantum computer yet when it's made available in mid October. Beyond the higher number of qubits, it also comes with other improvements, such as a new quantum processor design with more compact custom electronics that reduce interference and error rates.

IBM has stated before that it’s not a fan of just chasing higher qubit counts. This is why it came up with its “quantum volume” formula. It takes into account both the number of qubits and the error rate. A high qubit number doesn’t mean too much unless the error rate is sufficiently small, too. Alternatively, you can’t do much with a quantum computer that has a handful of qubits and zero errors. You need both the high number of qubits and the low error rate. Furthermore, both of these metrics need even larger improvements in the coming years before they can be seen as useful for a larger number of practical applications.

IBM Director of Research Dario Gil said in an official statement that:

“Our global momentum has been extraordinary since we put the very first quantum computer on the cloud in 2016, with the goal of moving quantum computing beyond isolated lab experiments that only a handful organizations could do, into the hands of tens of thousands of users.

The single goal of this passionate community is to achieve what we call Quantum Advantage, producing powerful quantum systems that can ultimately solve real problems facing our clients that are not viable using today’s classical methods alone and by making even more IBM Quantum systems available we believe that goal is achievable.”

IBM’s “Quantum Advantage” is basically the same as Google’s “Quantum Supremacy. ” Both aim to show that at least some applications can be run faster on a quantum computer than they can be on the fastest supercomputer on Earth.

IBM claims that it has 80 commercial, institutional and academic partnerships in place, which gives IBM some validation that its quantum computers work, at the very least, for research purposes.

Lucian Armasu
Lucian Armasu is a Contributing Writer for Tom's Hardware US. He covers software news and the issues surrounding privacy and security.