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Honeywell expects that as advances in quantum computing continue to accelerate over the next 18 to 24 months, the ability to replicate the results of a quantum computing application workload using a conventional computing platform simulation will come to an end.
The company’s System Model H1 has now quadrupled its performance capabilities to become the first commercial quantum computer to attain a 512 quantum volume. Ascertaining quantum volume requires running a complex set of statistical tests that are influenced by the number of qubits, error rates, connectivity of qubits, and cross-talk between qubits. That approach provides a more accurate assessment of a quantum computer’s processing capability that goes beyond simply counting the number of qubits that can be employed.
Honeywell today provides access to a set of simulation tools that make it possible to validate the results delivered on its quantum computers on a conventional machine. Those simulations give organizations more confidence in quantum computing platforms by allowing them to compare results. However, quantum computers are now approaching a level where at some point between 2022 and 2023 that will no longer be possible, Honeywell Quantum Solutions president Tony Uttley said.
Honeywell has pursued an approach to quantum computing that differs from those of rivals by focusing its efforts on a narrower range of more stable qubits. Each system is based on a trapped-ion architecture that leverages numerous individual charged atoms (ions) to hold information. It then applies electromagnetic fields to hold (trap) each ion in a way that allows it to be manipulated and encoded using laser pulses.
The company makes its quantum computers available via a subscription to a cloud service and counts BMW, DHL, JP Morgan Chase, and Samsung among its customers. Systems residing outside of Boulder, Colorado and Minneapolis are made available to customers for up to two weeks at a time before being taken offline for two weeks to add additional capacity.
Subscriptions for the System Model H1 service are currently sold out, and each Honeywell quantum computing customer has previously tried to employ a different platform before switching to Honeywell, Uttley said. The company is now moving toward making a third-generation System Model H2 service available that will offer higher levels of unspecified quantum volume, Uttley added.
Honeywell has committed to delivering a tenfold increase in quantum volume every five years. The company has been able to deliver a fourfold increase in the amount of quantum volume it can make available in the last five months alone, Uttley said.
Quantum computers can process bits that have a value of both 0 and 1 at the same time, which makes them more powerful than conventional computing platforms. Advances in quantum computing, however, will by no means signal the demise of conventional computers, Uttley added. Instead, it’s becoming apparent that quantum computers and conventional computers are simply going to be better suited to running different classes of workloads, Uttley said.
“These systems will run side by side for decades,” Uttley added. “Conventional computing platforms are not going to be replaced anytime soon.”
Quantum computers, however, are better suited to addressing complex computational challenges involving chemistry, routing optimizations using, for example, logistics and traffic management applications, and even the training of AI models. In the latter case, a quantum computer can identify the starting point for the training of an AI model that would then be completed by a conventional computer. Other more intractable problems involving, for example, applications for ways to reduce the level of carbon in the atmosphere are only feasible to run on a quantum computing platform.
It may still be a while before quantum computing delivers on its full promise, but while the way quantum systems work may not be widely understood, there is now no turning back.
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