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Announcements from Amazon’s re:Invent 2019 conference in Las Vegas this week are coming in at a steady clip, most recently several relating to the tech giant’s ongoing quantum computing efforts. This afternoon, Amazon Web Services (AWS) — Amazon’s cloud computing division — detailed three key initiatives as part its plans to advance quantum computing tech: a fully managed service called Amazon Braket, a new academic partnership with the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), and a Quantum Solutions Lab.
“With quantum engineering starting to make more meaningful progress, customers are asking for ways to experiment with quantum computers and explore the technology’s potential,” said AWS senior vice president Charlie Bell. “We believe that quantum computing will be a cloud-first technology and that the cloud will be the main way customers access the hardware.”
AWS Braket, which launches today in preview, is a fully managed service that provides customers a development environment to build quantum algorithms, test them on simulated quantum computers, and try them on a range of different quantum hardware architectures. Using Jupyter notebooks and existing AWS services, users can assess both present and future capabilities including quantum annealing from D-Wave, ion trap devices from IonQ, and superconducting chips from Rigetti. More will arrive in the coming months.
Amazon says partners were chosen “for their quantum technologies,” and that both customers (like Boeing) and hardware providers can design quantum algorithms using the Braket developer toolkit. They’re afforded the choice of executing either low-level quantum circuits or fully managed hybrid algorithms, and of selecting between software simulators and quantum hardware.
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AWS Center for Quantum Computing
Alongside Braket, Amazon announced the AWS Center for Quantum Computing, a new laboratory to be established at Caltech with the goal of “boosting innovation in science and industry.” According to the company, it will bring together Amazon researchers and engineers with academic institutions in quantum computing to develop more powerful quantum computing hardware and identify novel quantum applications.
“We are delighted to join with our colleagues at AWS and our academic partners to address the fundamental challenges that must be overcome if quantum computing is to reach its full potential,” said provostial chair and professor of chemistry and chemical engineering David Tirrell. “Caltech has made substantial investments in both experimental and theoretical quantum science and technology over the years, and the new Center will provide an extraordinary opportunity to maximize the impact of those investments.”
AWS Quantum Solutions Lab
Lastly, Amazon debuted the Quantum Solutions Lab, which aims to connect AWS customers with quantum computing experts — including those from 1Qbit, Rahko, Rigetti, QC Ware, QSimulate, Xanadu, and Zapata — to identify ways to apply quantum computing inside their organizations. Amazon says that it and its partners will work with customers on experiments and guide them to incorporate quantum solutions into their business, in part through lab programs that combine hands-on educational workshops with brainstorming sessions.
Amazon’s trio of announcements come after Google made available to cloud customers its Bristlecone quantum processor, and after IBM began giving enterprise customers and research institutions remote access to its quantum machine. In November, another competitor — Microsoft — took the wraps off of Azure Quantum, a service that offers select partners access to three prototype quantum computers from IonQ, Honeywell, and QCI.
The quantum computing market could prove to be a lucrative new source of revenue for AWS. According to some analysts, it’ll reach nearly $1 billion by 2025, up from $89.35 million in 2016.
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