The quest for the greatest Supercomputer of all time: IBM gets huge grant to crack ‘quantum computing’

The quest for the greatest Supercomputer of all time: IBM gets huge grant to crack ‘quantum computing’

The U.S. intelligence community has given IBM a grant to work on quantum computers.

The research arm of the United States Intelligence Community has just awarded a multi-year grant to IBM — it wants the computing giant to crack the code on quantum computing.

The U.S. government announced recently that it would provide a multi-year funding grant to IBM in order to allow it to continue its quantum computing research, according to a Christian Science Monitor report.

But why? It all comes down to the incredible power that could be harnessed if IBM were to figure out quantum computing.

Today, the fastest computer in the world is Tianhe-2 out of China, which takes up 8,000 square feet of space and can work at 34 petaflops, which is 34 trillion operations per second. However, it requires the traditional digital design where bits represents a 0 or a 1. Quantum computers, on the other hands, would have atom-sized bits that can represent 0, 1, or a superposition of 0 and 1 at the same time, according to the report. That means that three quantum bits could have eight values at the same time, allowing them to be exceptionally faster than even the most powerful supercomputers of today.

Such computing power is especially useful for complex modelling simulations involving thousands of independent variables — air traffic control and molecular modeling are a couple of good examples where this computing power is useful.

But quantum bits, or qubits as they are called, have a problem: they are fragile and have to be shielded from heat and electromagnetic interference in near absolute zero temperatures. That’s why IBM’s best quantum computer only has eight qubits at the moment, severely limiting it.

However, IBM has some leads to cracking the problem. It will try to encode some imperfect physical qubits into a logical qubit that can perform quantum computations without errors, which could serve as the foundation for quantum computing.

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