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IBM Introduces Q System One Quantum Computer

Thursday Jan 10th 2019 by Sean Michael Kerner

IBM takes the wraps off what it is calling the world's first commercial Quantum computer.

IBM is pushing its vision for the future of computing at the 2019 Consumer Electronics Show (CES), announcing its IBM Q System One Quantum computer.

The Q System One is IBM's first official commercially targeted Quantum computer, bringing a very different approach to computing than what classical silicon-based server computing has enabled to date.

Quantum computing uses concepts from quantum physics, including super-position, quantum entanglement and quantum tunneling, to compute or calculate different outcomes and results that a given application might need.

IBM has been developing Quantum technology under the Q system name over the past decade, though most of the technology has been largely experimental and not consumable by commercial enterprises.

In 2016, IBM launched its Quantum Experience initiative, enabling interested organizations to run experiments on the system. In 2017, the Quantum Experience expanded with an API program that enabled developers to interface with the Quantum system via the IBM cloud.

The Q System One will enable broader use of Quantum computing, though it's not a system organizations will be buying in the same way they can buy servers today. IBM is setting up a Q Quantum Computation Center for commercial clients in Poughkeepsie, New York, in 2019, where the system can be used.

"The system is the first universal approximate superconducting quantum computer to operate outside the research lab and is now being used to advance quantum computing for business and science," IBM stated in a promotional video about the Q System One.

The Challenge of Enabling Qubits for Quantum Computations

Among the hardest challenges of Quantum Computing according to IBM is the ability to have a stable system that can manage the tight tolerances needed to enable the qubits that are used to perform quantum computations.

A qubit is the basic unit of quantum information and is the core element and metric used to enable and define the power of quantum computing. The more qubits a system has available, the more computations it can perform.

Rather than a traditional rack-mounted server system, the Q System One is a 9x9 foot glass case that provides an airtight vacuum enclosure for the core system. The quantum environment itself makes use of what IBM refers to as cryogenic engineering that delivers a continuous cold and isolated quantum environment.

"The IBM Q System One is a major step forward in the commercialization of quantum computing," Arvind Krishna, senior vice president of Hybrid Cloud and director of IBM Research, wrote in a media advisory. "This new system is critical in expanding quantum computing beyond the walls of the research lab as we work to develop practical quantum applications for business and science."

IBM Q System

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at ServerWatch and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

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