Today at TechCrunch Disrupt 2020, executives from three quantum computer startups discussed the future of technology with TechCrunch editor Frederic Lardinois. Peter Chapman, CEO and President of IonQ, suggested we could only be five years away from a desktop quantum computer, but not everyone agreed on this optimistic timeline.
“I think in the next few years, about five years, you will start to see [desktop quantum machines]. Our goal is to achieve a rack quantum computer, ”said Chapman.
For Alan Baratz, CEO of D-Wave Systems, this seemed a little optimistic. He says that when it comes to developing the superconducting technology his company is building, a special type of fairly large quantum cooling unit called a dilution refrigerator is required, and that unit would be highly unlikely to set a five-year target for a desktop Quantum PC .
Itamar Sivan, CEO of Quantum Machines, believes we have many steps to go before we see this type of technology and many hurdles that must be overcome to achieve it.
“This challenge does not lie in a specific, singular problem of finding the right material or solving a very specific equation or anything. It really is a challenge that has to be solved in a multidisciplinary manner, ”said Sivan.
Chapman also sees a day when we could have fringe quantum machines, for example in a military aircraft, that could not efficiently access quantum machines from the cloud.
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One thing worth mentioning is that IonQs The approach to quantum is very different from that of D-Wave and quantum machines. .
In its form of the quantum computer, IonQ relies on technology that was pioneered in atomic clocks. Quantum machines don’t build quantum processors. Instead, the hardware and software layer is created to control these machines, which reach a point where this is no longer possible with classic computers.
D-Wave, on the other hand, uses a concept called quantum glow, which can create thousands of qubits, but at the cost of higher error rates.
As technology evolves in the decades to come, these companies believe it will add value by giving customers a starting point for this powerful form of computing that, when used, will change the way we do it consider computing in the classical sense. But Sivan says there are many steps to get there.
“This is a major challenge that would also require focused and highly specialized teams that specialize in every layer of the quantum computing stack,” he said. One way to solve this is to form a broad partnership to solve some of these fundamental problems and work with the cloud companies to bring quantum computers, however they choose to, to a wider audience today.
“In that regard, I think we’ve seen some very interesting partnerships this year that are essential for that. We have seen companies like IonQ and D-Wave, as well as others, working with cloud providers who deploy their own quantum computers through other companies’ cloud services, ”said Sivan. And he said his company will announce some of its own partnerships in the coming weeks.
The ultimate goal of all three companies is to eventually build a universal quantum computer that can achieve the goal of delivering real quantum power. “We can and should march further towards the universal quantum in order to get to the point where we can do things that are classically simply not possible,” said Baratz. But he and the others realize that we are still at a very early stage to reach this endgame.