Making the announcement at its Ignite conference, the company reported its progress toward developing both a topological qubit and an ecosystem of hardware and software that it hopes will eventually allow developers to take advantage of quantum computing’s power. Included in that progress is a new programming language – integrated with the company’s Visual Studio IDE – designed to work on both current quantum simulators and an eventual topological quantum computer.
Topological qubits, says the company, can perform computations longer and more consistently, with significantly lower error rates compared to other quantum methods, and make designing a scalable, useful machine “dramatically more manageable.” In addition, the company claims, key advancements in cryogenics (top image) and quantum hardware will give it the unique ability to scale.
“We’re doing everything,” says Todd Holmdahl, the Microsoft corporate vice president in charge of the quantum effort, “from the physics to the control plane to the software that runs the computer to the algorithms that you need to do interesting things like quantum chemistry, to the applications for personalized medicine or helping with climate change.”
Quantum computing will have innumerable practical benefits, the company says, such as allowing scientists to do computations in minutes or hours that would be impractical or impossible on today’s most advanced traditional computers. The result could be answers to scientific questions previously thought unanswerable.
“A quantum computer is able to model nature,” says Krysta Svore, who has led development of Microsoft software designed to work on quantum computers and quantum simulators. “With classical computers we’re not able to really understand those processes.”
The system will be available as a free preview by the end of the year. It includes libraries and tutorials to allow developers to familiarize themselves with quantum computing, and is designed so that developers without quantum expertise can actually call quantum subroutines, write sequences of programming instructions, and work their way up to writing a complete quantum program.
Individual users will be able to simulate problems that require up to 30 logical qubits of power on their own personal computers. Selected enterprise customers, using Azure, will be able to simulate more than 40 qubits of computational power.
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