IBM has unveiled the world's first commercial quantum computer in a breakthrough that could someday lead to PCs that are millions of times faster than a regular machines.
Named the IBM Q System One, the supercomputer was unveiled this week at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in an airtight 9-foot cube made from half-inch thick glass.
The IBM Q uses theories of physics to create computing techniques that are far more powerful than current devices.
While real-world applications of quantum computing is still some way off, the technology could be used to revolutionise fields including medicine, artificial intelligence, financial markets and online security.
IBM's new computer, based in Ploughskeepsie, New York, will be the first time a quantum system has been open for commercial use when it launches later this year.
IBM has been running tests on its Q System since 2016, which have been open to users and accessed by 100,000 researchers and scientists.
Quantum computing is radically different to the way current computers operate. Modern computers function using a binary system of electron particles to give answers made up of ones and zeros to make decisions.
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However, quantum computers use quantum particles known as qubits. Unlike electrons, qubits can take on both positions of one and zero at once, or a mixture of the two, and the particles can interact with one another in a process known by physicists as “entanglement”.
This process makes the computer vastly more powerful than regular computers and able to arrive at answers using huge data sets or complicated algorithms faster.
The IBM Q System One computer appears as a stack of circuit boards and wires, encased in a metal cylinder. It sits in a half-inch thick glass case built by designers who have protected the Crown Jewels and the Mona Lisa.
IBM's computer is a 20-qubit machine, technically smaller than a Google-built 72-qubit quantum computer at its lab in Mountain View, California.
Until now, the IBM Q had been used to run experiments and trials by scientists. The new launch, at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas represents its first step towards making the computers available for customers.
“The IBM Q System One is a major step forward in the commercialisation of quantum computing,” said Arvind Krishna director of IBM Research. “This new system is critical in expanding quantum computing beyond the walls of the research lab.”
This article was written by Matthew Field from The Telegraph and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to email@example.com.
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