Understanding the 3 types of quantum computers and what it means to you.
I get asked a lot by customers and business colleagues how quantum computers work and help them make sense of the several types of quantum computers that exist today. Hopefully by putting all of this into plain English, you can better understand what is happening in the field and why getting quantum-safe / quantum-resilient is paramount for your business.
Today there are 3 quantum computing designs that are based on their qubit count (qubits are to a quantum computer what the number of bits is to a classical computer). We will start with the weakest form of quantum computer and go to the most powerful.
- Quantum Annealer is the is the easiest to build and also the weakest. Today’s classical computer can outperform this kind of quantum computer for everyday tasks like email, video creation, gaming, etc. However, the Quantum Annealer is superior in the ability to factor very large numbers (breaking encryption) and to solve optimization problems (like analyzing route data for mapping applications). D-Wave Systems was one of the first companies to announce a commercially available quantum computer and utilizes Quantum Annealing for it’s core processing. D-Wave is still very early with Annealing and perhaps in time they can harness this processing to provide more qubits and thus more performance. However, I believe Analog Based Quantum computers and especially Universal Quantum Computers are the future. Here is a white paper from D-Wave that can give you some deeper insights into what it’s doing: https://www.dwavesys.com/sites/default/files/14-1036A-B_wp_Practical_Annealing-Based_Quantum_Computing%20%281%29_0.pdf
- Analog Quantum Computer or the Analog Quantum computer is where the mainstream is heading now and largely because a Analog Quantum Computer is far faster than today’s traditional computers and has incredible computational benefits. There are several companies building quantum computers using this technology paradigm, including Google, Microsoft, IBM Q, Rigetti, Google, Honeywell and IonQ . This form of quantum computer is more difficult to manufacture, but it holds great promise for solving massive problems in quantum chemistry, material science, quantum dynamics, sampling, and optimization problems. The Analog Quantum computer can be used to break current encryption standard using encryption breaking algorithms, like SHOR’s or Grover’s. The Analog Quantum Computer will emerge as the first form of computer that will exponentially out perform today’s classical computers. https://www.ibm.com/quantum-computing/learn/what-is-ibm-q/
- Universal Quantum Computer is the most complex to build but is the most powerful. It will have more than 100,000 qubits and require massive amounts of energy to operate. More than the energy requirements, the Universal Quantum computer requires cryogenic cooling to maintain the absolute zero-4 Kelvin to operate. IBM is designing a chip for Universal Quantum Computing and IBM is doing a lot of work in this area too from both hardware & software. While we don’t know what other companies are working on, I would expect to hear that Google and Microsoft will have initiatives in the area too. Universal Quantum Computers can be used for secure computing, machine learning, quantum dynamics, optimization problems, material science, quantum chemistry. It can break encryption even faster than any other form of quantum computer.
So quantum computing is taking quantum leaps in terms of power, performance and capability. The field is rapidly maturing, but there are many more developments to come. Right now companies are laying the hardware foundation and software foundations for the quantum computing revolution and emergence into our daily lives. It’s such an exciting time for the industry.
I have only talked about what developments are in the press. Keep in mind China, the US Government and other nation states are also working on their own quantum initiatives that are behind the curtain we cannot see. With the billions being invested by China alone there is a race to dominate this space and unlock the many advancements that come with harnessing this technology. These computers can solve problems that you cannot even fathom and run simulations so complex that it would take a classical computer 1000’s of years to calculate. It can do them in seconds. That is power, on a large scale. Can a quantum computer finally be the last piece to curing cancer? Solving climate change? Creating new materials for space travel? New forms of transportation like teleportation? Yes, a quantum computer will be behind these breakthroughs and many more. Soon we will have the ability to mathematically simulate the deepest secrets of the universe, a quantum universe and that is why so much is being invested in this new field of research and development. If you think classical computing has played a role in your life from TikTok’s, to Facebook Posts and finding you the fastest route through traffic. Just wait until you see what’s coming once the quantum revolution takes off and starts shaping your life. It will astound.
While quantum computing will lead to great advances in our lives. There are the downsides of quantum computing like having a master key to all the locked or encrypted data around the world. Whoever possesses a quantum computer wields incredible power to unlock anything they want in this digital world. Quantum computers make all of today’s encryption models obsolete. We at Secured2 have developed our data security technology to keep your data safe from all threats, including Quantum computing. If you have any data that you need to be secured, reach out to me and let’s find a solution to keep you safe from today’s threats and from those coming with the advent of quantum computing. The time to prepare is now before it’s too late. Once your data is gone, it’s gone forever!