What is quantum computing?
Quantum computing is a way to solve extremely complex problems by searching for patterns within billions of data points using multidimensional computational spaces. It is much smaller than a supercomputer, yet it solves problems classical supercomputers cannot.
How does quantum computing work?
The secret to quantum computing’s power is the qubit. These are the quantum computer’s version of bits, or the tiny units of data used in telecommunications and computing.
What makes a qubit different to an ordinary bit is that it holds information in a state of superposition. This means that every possible configuration of the data is represented within the qubit. So, at the most fundamental level, the data itself can be expressed in many, many ways at the same time, which allows for much more sophisticated analyses.
In addition, quantum algorithms take into account a mechanical effect called “entanglement” to find solutions. Entanglement refers to the interrelated behaviour between two separate things so that, in quantum terms, any change to one qubit will directly affect the other. By keeping these interrelationships in play, quantum processors can accommodate more complexity in their computational analyses.
Why do we need quantum computers?
Quantum computers are perfectly suited to solve industry’s biggest challenges, even as businesses and technologies continue to evolve. In fact, innovation itself relies on the ability of technology to keep up with its ever-increasing demands.
For example, renewable energy systems must stay on a path of constant improvement to become more efficient and less expensive if they can even hope to replace fossil fuels entirely. Researchers rely on quantum computing to simulate complex chemical compounds and reactions as they search for new materials to improve battery technology.
Deep space exploration requires continuous refinement of materials to discover those that can withstand increasingly harsh operating conditions. Without quantum computing, the testing cycle takes months in the laboratory, slowing progress to a snail’s pace.
Even run-of-the-mill industries that manufacture everyday goods benefit from the power of quantum computing. From logistics routing to factory assembly planning to scheduling optimisation, these industries are becoming much more efficient by running quantum algorithms, which will enable greater savings and economies of scale.
What are the benefits and applications of quantum computing?
Because of its massive processing power, quantum computing provides huge advantages, such as:
· Greater sophistication: By creating multidimensional spaces and accommodating multilayered relationships among data sets, quantum computing can handle tasks that supercomputers cannot.
· More comprehensive modelling options: Quantum computers leverage the same physical rules as atoms, making the analysis of complex natural systems more feasible.
· Faster speeds: Quantum processors can scale to handle massive quantities of data.
· Reduced power: By using superconductors to process data, quantum computing systems draw much less energy from the grid.
· Lower risk/cost: With the ability to run multiple simulations at once, quantum computing can take the place of much lab-based research, which reduces the risk inherent in running experiments in physical labs and drastically reduces the expense as well.
· Less extensive training: Quantum computing doesn’t use special coding languages, so no specialised coding skills are required.
Quantum computing is being used in many applications that include:
· Forecasting: Because quantum computing can handle enormous data sets much more efficiently, weather and financial forecasts can be both more accurate and more timely.
· Encryption: Quantum processors make quick work of cracking encryption protocols – even those created by supercomputers – and they are increasingly being used to replace less sophisticated protocols with those that are virtually hack-proof.
· Automobiles: As quantum algorithms are based on pattern identification, they are supremely useful for analysing traffic flows and redirecting traffic when queues are predicted. In addition, when driving behaviours are paired with traffic patterns in a quantum system, programming autonomous vehicles can be much more reliable.
· Biology/Medical: A myriad of medical studies rely on quantum processors, from large-scale behavioural analyses to micro-scale cellular experiments, such as genetic studies analysing long strings of amino acids to locate disease-causing sequences or how the proteins can be folded to change behaviours.
HPE and quantum computing
As organisations need to make sense of massive amounts of data very quickly using very little energy, interest in exploring quantum computing has increased. That’s because tomorrow’s computing challenges cannot be met by throwing more and more general-purpose compute at the problems. However, anyone counting on quantum computing to solve their problems regarding Big Data, AI and analytics will be waiting a very long time.
Instead, at HPE, we’re working on new forms of computing targeted at specific workloads to address those challenges. We call these special-purpose compute engines accelerators. These are able to solve specific compute tasks orders of magnitude faster and using far less energy. We offer an array of accelerators to give customers an edge with their AI analytics to solve real-world enterprise tasks.
As to the next-level challenges, while we recognise that quantum computing has incredible potential to solve certain types of problems, these problems don’t affect most businesses. Quantum computing will be a very powerful technique for solving a narrow class of problems in important fields like materials science and drug discovery, especially those modelling fundamentally quantum systems. For certain applications like modelling molecules to develop new materials and pharmaceuticals, quantum computers can do things that even today’s most powerful supercomputers can’t.
To that end, HPE has invested in IonQ, an exciting start-up that is quickly becoming a leading player in the emerging quantum computing marketplace. We invested in IonQ because we feel that the company is quickly becoming a leading player in the emerging quantum computing marketplace and because we believe that their approach, which uses trapped ions to make qubits instead of superconducting junctions, is the most promising route to produce truly useful systems. We see a future where HPE customers can select quantum accelerators as easily as any other type of compute and consume quantum computing on an as-a-service basis. In a world where quantum is just one of many flexible compute options, HPE aims to take a leading role. We believe IonQ will help us do it.