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Atos has announced the commercial availability of a system that will enable developers to create and test applications and algorithms that might solve complex problems more quickly through quantum computing.
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The Atos Quantum Learning Machine (QLM), which is powered by a supercomputer the size of an enterprise server using a programming language known as Atos Quantum Assembly Language, will be capable of simulating up to 40 quantum bits (Qubits). It will make it possible to create algorithms and applications that might one day be powered by quantum computers.
Quantum computers could instigate a leap forward in computing capability greater than that from the abacus to a modern-day supercomputer, with performance gains in the billion-fold realm and beyond. The quantum computer, following the laws of quantum physics, would gain enormous processing power through its ability to be in multiple states, and to perform tasks using all possible permutations simultaneously.
The machines would use quantum mechanics to process huge amounts of data and perform computations in powerful new ways not possible with today’s conventional computers.
The French IT giant is initially targeting research and development centres, universities, students and some companies with the QLM system, which will cost €100,000.
Speaking at this year’s annual Atos Technology Days in Brussels, Atos CEO Thierry Breton said: “Quantum physics will lead to profound changes, notably in cyber security, and we must be planning for the impact of these today.”
Read more about quantum computing
- The race to build the first quantum computers is on. Microsoft’s efforts in this space are supported by a dedicated subsection of the Microsoft Research division – and IBM’s work in this space is no less far-reaching.
- A universal quantum computer, available through the cloud, offers the potential for researchers and enterprises to tackle computationally impossible problems
Breton said that through QLM, scientists and engineers would have a “simulation environment which enables them to develop quantum algorithms to prepare for the major accelerations to come”.
He added: “It will train the developers of the future who will have quantum computing machines.”
Earl Joseph, CEO at analyst company Hyperion Research, said that although there is real excitement about new technologies such as quantum computing, it is necessary to learn how to program and use quantum computers.
“By providing universities, research institutes and both large and small businesses across the world with access to its QLM, Atos is enabling organisations to experiment with quantum computing and prepare for this potential revolution in computing,” he said.
Five application areas for quantum computing
- Drug and materials discovery: untangling the complexity of molecular and chemical interactions leading to the discovery of medicines and materials.
- Supply chain and logistics: finding the optimal path across global systems for ultra-efficient logistics and supply chains, such as optimising fleet operations for deliveries during the holiday season.
- Financial services: finding ways to model financial data and isolating key global risk factors to make better investments.
- Artificial intelligence: making facets of artificial intelligence, such as machine learning, much more powerful when datasets can be too big, such as searching images or video.
- Cloud security: making cloud computing more secure by using the laws of quantum physics to enhance private data safety.