For more than 20 years, D-Wave has been synonymous with quantum annealing. Its early bet on this technology allowed it to become the world's first company to sell quantum computers, but that also somewhat limited the real-world problems its hardware could solve, given that quantum annealing works especially well for optimization problems like protein folding or route planning. But as the company announced at its Qubits conference today, a superconducting gate-model quantum computer — of the kind IBM and others currently offer — is now also on its roadmap.
D-Wave believes the combination of annealing, gate-model quantum computing and classic machines is what its businesses' users will need to get the most value from this technology. "Like we did when we initially chose to pursue annealing, we're looking ahead," the company notes in today's announcement. "We're anticipating what our customers need to drive practical business value, and we know error-corrected gate-model quantum systems with practical application value will be required for another important part of the quantum application market: simulating quantum systems. This is an application that's particularly useful in fields like materials science and pharmaceutical research."
« Researchers Create "Self-Aware" Algorithm to Ward Off Hacking Attempts | Fossil Fuel Industry Gets Subsidies of $11M a Minute, IMF Finds »
Scientists from quantum computing company D-Wave have demonstrated that, using a method called quantum annealing, they could simulate some materials up to three million times faster than it would take with corresponding classical methods.
Together with researchers from Google, the scientists set out to measure the speed of simulation in one of D-Wave's quantum annealing processors, and found that performance increased with both simulation size and problem difficulty, to reach a million-fold speedup over what could be achieved with a classical CPU.
The calculation that D-Wave and Google's teams tackled is a real-world problem; in fact, it has already been resolved by the 2016 winners of the Nobel Prize in Physics, Vadim Berezinskii, J. Michael Kosterlitz and David Thouless, who studied the behavior of so-called "exotic magnetism", which occurs in quantum magnetic systems.
[...] In contrast, D-Wave's latest experiment resolved a meaningful problem that scientists are interested in independent of quantum computing. The findings have already attracted the attention of scientists around the world.
Andrew D. King, Jack Raymond, Trevor Lanting, et al. Scaling advantage over path-integral Monte Carlo in quantum simulation of geometrically frustrated magnets [open], Nature Communications (DOI: 10.1038/s41467-021-20901-5)