Computers have come a long way since the ENIAC was invented in 1946. Computers write and store with data based on a series of 1’s and 0’s, called bits. Quantum computers, formed on the principles of quantum mechanics, however are based on quantum bits, also known as qubits. They have two possible values (states) as 0 and 1, similar to the ones we have in conventional modern day computers. However, qubits can hold both values, 1’s and 0’s consecutively. This property is based on the principle of Quantum mechanics property of superposition. Superposition makes quantum technology special because it gives rise to new logical quantum gates which, in turn, make possible new quantum algorithms. There are 3 basic types of quantum computers, quantum annealers, analog quantum and universal quantum computers.
The processing power of these computers is exponentially better than classical computers used today. Using conventional bits in today’s computers a three-bit register could hold eight possible value combinations (000, 001, 010, 011, 100, 101, 110, 111). Any conventional record could only take one of those eight values. On the other hand, if we have a three-qubit register, the bit carries information of the eight different values at the same time, thanks to the property of “superposition”. Hence, a three-qubit register could allow processes on eight parallel options. A 5 or 6 qubit machine could run 32 - 64 options in parallel. A 50-qubits quantum computer, we are talking of 140 TBytes. The “quantum supremacy” would be obtained. This concept means that the quantum device would be able to handle such an amount of registers that no single classical device on earth can do. A quantum computer with 50 qubits would be smaller, more powerful and ecological.
Another essential property of quantum computers is the property of “entanglement”. Based on another theory of quantum mechanics states that the state of one qubit can be dependent on the state of another. Through this you can predict the state of a pair of qubits through solely observing one half of the related pair
Modern day computers gain there processing power from the number of transistors present on a chip. The current latest 4th gen intel processor has 1.7 billion transistors and their goal is to reach 100 billion transistors by 2026.
Applications of Quantum Computing
Quantum computing holds the power to transform the ways major industries operate, with wide – ranging applications from medical sciences, autonomous vehicles, financial services and artificial intelligence. Quantum computing could allow exponentially speeding up specific classes of problems by exploiting superposition and entanglement in the manipulation of quantum bits (qubits).
Canadian firm D-Wave is a pioneer of commercial quantum computing and sells machines costing up to $15 million to clients like Google. IBM meanwhile is making it possible for people to access its own quantum computing technology through the cloud.
One such example is using quantum computing in Artificial Intelligence (AI), where an optimisation algorithms which can use the properties of superposition to speed up the optimisation problem which would eventually lead faster computation algorithms.
Most famous example of a quantum annealer is D-Wave2 , a highly specialized system build for solving optimization problems and which was bought by Google for $10 million. It is said to be around 3600 times faster than the fastest super computer present. Recently IBM fit a bit onto a single atom. Although it isn’t commercially practical yet it could be within 10 years. Quantum computing would significantly disrupt all current aspects of cybersecurity; the speed and complexity with which quantum computers can solve problems would decimate the industry. In January 2017, Temporal Defense Systems spent $15 million on the D-Wave 2000Q for the very same reason. Security-focused quantum technologies could solve modern cryptology problems that would take today’s computers thousands of years to solve.