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Exxon joins IBM’s quantum committee as Q System One goes commercial

The Q System One is said to be the world’s first commercial quantum computer. ExxonMobil and CERN hope to exploit IBM’s latest tech

IBM has introduced what it describes as the world’s first commercially available quantum computer, the IBM Q System One. It also plans to open a Q Quantum Computation Centre for commercial clients in Poughkeepsie, New York, this year.

The IBM Q System One is comprised of a number of custom components that work together. According to IBM, the hardware is designed to be stable and auto-calibrated to give repeatable and predictable high-quality qubits.

Arvind Krishna, senior vice-president of hybrid cloud and director of IBM Research, said: “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.”

According to IBM, quantum computing could more effectively solve large systems of linear equations, which it said would accelerate the development of more realistic simulations. Potential applications include optimising a country’s power grid and making more predictive environmental and highly accurate quantum chemistry calculations to enable the discovery of new materials for more efficient carbon capture.

ExxonMobil, CERN, Argonne National Laboratory, Fermilab and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have joined IBM’s Q Network, a joint research group for quantum computing.

Vijay Swarup, vice-president of research and development for ExxonMobil Research and Engineering Company, said: “Quantum computing can potentially provide us with capabilities to simulate nature and chemistry that we’ve never had before. As we continue our own research and development efforts toward advancing new energy technologies, our agreement with IBM will allow us to expand our knowledge base and potentially apply new solutions in computing to further advance those efforts.”

IBM said the design of IBM Q System One included a 9ft-tall, 9ft-wide case of half-inch thick borosilicate glass to form a sealed, airtight enclosure that opens using “roto-translation”, a motor-driven rotation around two displaced axes engineered to simplify the system’s maintenance and upgrade process while minimising downtime.

Read more about quantum computing

  • A universal quantum computer, available through the cloud, offers the potential for researchers and enterprises to tackle computationally impossible problems.
  • The predicted processing power of quantum computers is likely to make existing encryption algorithms obsolete. Quantum key distribution (QKD) is a possible solution – we investigate whether QKD is viable.

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