IBM announces its most powerful universal quantum computing processors

May 18, 2017 // By Graham Prophet
Can you think of anything to do with a 16-qubit quantum computer? IBM (Armonk, North Castle, NY) rather hopes you do, as it is offering access to its latest research machines, to explore the potential uses of the technology and help point the way from theoretical principle to real application. Developers, researchers and programmers have already carried out more than 300,000 quantum experiments on IBM Cloud, on prior prototype processors.

IBM has disclosed that it has successfully built and tested its most powerful universal quantum computing processors. The first upgraded processor will be available for use by developers, researchers, and programmers to explore quantum computing using a real quantum processor at no cost via the IBM Cloud. The second is a new prototype of a commercial processor, which will be the core for the first IBM Q early-access commercial systems.

Launched in March 2017 , IBM Q is a unique initiative to build commercially-available universal quantum computing systems for business and science applications. IBM Q systems and services will be delivered via the IBM Cloud platform.

IBM first opened public access to its quantum processors one year ago (as of May 2017), to serve as an enablement tool for scientific research, a resource for university classrooms, and a catalyst of enthusiasm for the field. To date users have run more than 300,000 quantum experiments on the IBM Cloud.

With the introduction of two new processors today for IBM Q, the company says it is building the foundation for solving practical problems in business and science that are intractable even with today’s most powerful classical computing systems. The two new IBM-developed processors include:

- A 16 qubit processor, that will allow for more complex experimentation than the previously available 5 qubit processor. It is freely accessible for developers, programmers and researchers to run quantum algorithms, work with individual quantum bits, and explore tutorials and simulations. Beta access is available by request through the IBM Q experience and a new Software Development Kit is available on GitHub

- IBM's first prototype commercial processor, with 17 qubits, that builds on significant materials, device, and architecture improvements to make it the most powerful quantum processor created to date by IBM. It has been engineered to be at least twice as powerful as what is available today to the public on the IBM Cloud