D-Wave’s 2,000-qubit, 10-foot tall quantum computer sold for $15 million

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Quantum computing is a very complicated subject branch of computer science that could, one day, radically change the way our computers function. At the forefront of that field is a Canadian company called D-Wave Systems, which created the world’s biggest quantum computing chip last year, with over 2000-qubits (quantum bits) to perform calculations.

Now, that chip is finally shipping in a 10-foot-tall, $15 million dollar quantum computer called the D-Wave 2000Q, which is a successor to the company’s earlier 1000Q, which only had half the number of qubits.

The actual chip itself is roughly the size of a thumbnail, with most of the massive 700 ft3structure taken up by cryogenic refrigerators and shielding to create the proper environment for the quantum computer to function properly and without outside interference. Specifically, the chip itself is kept at a frigid 15 millikelvins, or -459.6 degrees Fahrenheit through use of a liquid helium cooling system.

 

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The first buyer of the 2000Q is a cyber security firm called Temporal Defense Systems (TDS) who intends to use it to solve cyber security problems.

“The combined power of the TDS / D-Wave quantum cyber solution will revolutionize secure communications, protect against insider threats, and assist in the identification of cyber adversaries and attack patterns,” said James Burrell, TDS Chief Technology Officer and former FBI Deputy Assistant Director.

“Combining the unique computational capabilities of a quantum computer with the most advanced cyber security technologies will deliver the highest level of security, focused on both prevention and attribution of cyber attacks,” he explained.

The D-Wave 2000Q performs calculations through a controversial process known as “quantum annealing,” which renders a problem as a topographical map. Unlike universal quantum computers, which themselves will only offer some specialized forms of computation, quantum annealing computing is an even more specialized form of computation. If a universal quantum computer is more like a CPU, or even a GPU, then a quantum annealing computer is more like an ASIC, which should mainly only be able to solve quantum annealing (optimization) problems. D-Wave’s team has produced a six-minute video to explain what quantum annealing is:
 

 

D-Wave isn’t stopping with the D-2000Q, of course, with SVP of Systems Jeremy Hilton saying that the next machine would once again follow the path of doubling performance and making easier-to-use and more efficient software.
 

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