Google ready to start selling portions of its quantum cloud

Posted Jul 19, 2017 by James Walker
Google has reportedly started selling access to its quantum-powered cloud computing service to interested developers. The company is one of several major tech firms vying to be the first to commercialise quantum computers, the next era of technology.
Pixabay / Pexels
Google is known to be working on quantum systems that use concepts from quantum physics to solve problems that would take classical computers months, years or even centuries to solve. Bloomberg has now acquired presentation slides that suggest the company is already working on commercialising its technology.
The report claims that Google began offering access to its cloud-based quantum systems earlier this year. Noted artificial intelligence researchers at the edges of the field are being invited to try out its quantum experiments over the Internet.
The documents also reveal that Google is developing an open-source initiative to get developers "coding" for quantum computers. The company wants to accelerate development of what it sees as the next frontier of computing. It's battling stiff competition from rivals including Microsoft, IBM and Intel.
IBM is already building quantum processors and has created a cloud service based on the technology. In May, it unveiled its fastest chip yet, capable of running quantum operations at a rate of 17-qubits. The system available to developers currently has a 16-qubit processor and has been used to run over 300,000 programs.
Not content to be outdone in the race to achieve quantum supremacy, Google has said it's working on a machine that runs at 49-qubits. The company has also pledged to demonstrate that quantum computers can outperform existing classical supercomputers before the end of the year. This claim was repeated in the documents obtained by Bloomberg.
READ NEXT: IBM's latest quantum processor is its most powerful yet
Quantum computing remains a largely theoretical field that's a long way from becoming mainstream. It replaces the bits of information used in current computers with the concept of "qubits." Whereas digital bits have two states, "on" or "off," qubits have three. They can be "on," "off" or a superposition of the two, as described by quantum entanglement.
Proponents of quantum tech claim this third state could dramatically speed up next-generation supercomputers. When combined with other elements of quantum theory, such as tunnelling, the features of the qubit could allow machines to run exponentially faster than the best systems today.
With commercial applications now under development, it may not be too much longer before quantum computers begin to appear in industry. IBM's ongoing commercialisation of its early systems at least demonstrates how quantum systems can be used in tandem with conventional models. This is a concept being explored by firms like D-Wave too, recognising that both classical and quantum systems have distinct advantages that are best employed together.