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Quantum computing

IBM offers 20-qubit quantum computer to clients

15 Nov 2017 Hamish Johnston
Quantum information: IBM offers 20-qubit quantum computer to clients
Chilling out: part of an IBM cryostat wired for a 50-qubit system

IBM quantum computers with 20 superconducting qubits will soon be available for online use by the firm’s clients – according to the US-based company. The quantum systems will be running by the end of 2017 and IBM also says that it has built and tested a prototype quantum computer with 50 qubits.

Part of the IBM Q family of quantum computers, the new systems are based on transmon qubits. These store quantum information in terms of the presence or absence of Cooper pairs of electrons on small pieces of superconductor. IBM launched its first web-accessible quantum computer in 2016 and today the public can use 5- and 16-qubit systems through the IBM Q Experience programme.

Longer coherence time

As well as boosting the number of qubits available, IBM says that its 20-qubit processor has a coherence time of 90 µs. Coherence time is a measure of how long a qubit can retain quantum information and 90 µs is twice as long as that of its 5- and 16-qubit systems.

“Now, we can scale IBM processors up to 50 qubits due to tremendous feats of science and engineering,” enthuses IBM Research’s Dario Gil. “These latest advances show that we are quickly making quantum systems and tools available that could offer an advantage for tackling problems outside the realm of classical machines.”

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