Quantum computer dominates traditional PC in head-to-head battle

By on May 10, 2013, 1:00 PM
quantum computing, qubits, desktop pc, d-wave

Computer scientists have been singing the praises of quantum computers for years but the question remains: How do they stack up against a traditional high-end PC? We finally have an answer to that question as Catherine McGeoch from Amherst College, Massachusetts, recently put a commercially available quantum computer from D-Wave through its paces.

The allure around quantum computing is that quantum bits, known as qubits, can take the value of 0 and 1 simultaneously (classic bits can only take the value of one or the other). In order for the system to be truly quantum, the qubits must be linked using the quantum property of entanglement. Conveniently, it’s impossible to determine that while the system is running. Data from McGeoch’s tests, however, provided indirect evidence of entanglement.

The D-Wave system is designed to solve a specific type of optimization problem – one that reportedly comes up in many practical applications like machine learning and image recognition. McGeoch pitted the D-Wave system against a high-end desktop computer running three leading algorithms and gave each system half a second to find the best solution to the optimization problem. This task was repeated with 100 different versions before adding more variables and a more complicated equation.

The quantum computer was able to find the best solution every single time within half a second. Of the three algorithms tested, the best of the three had to run for half an hour to match the performance of the D-Wave system on the largest problems. In other words, the D-Wave system proved to be roughly 3600 times faster than the best algorithm result.

Keep in mind of course that the D-Wave system is optimized for this kind of work. A more fair approach, according to Jeremy O’Brien of the University of Bristol, UK, would be to build a conventional processor optimized for this type of task.

D-Wave said they would prefer to spend their time convincing customers that they have a system that can solve problems more efficiently rather than wasting time on academic benchmarking. Developing real-world applications is much preferred.




User Comments: 15

Got something to say? Post a comment
1 person liked this | MilwaukeeMike said:

D-Wave said they would prefer to spend their time convincing customers that they have a system that can solve problems more efficiently rather than wasting time on academic benchmarking. Developing real-world applications is much preferred.

Careful there guys.... while this sounds like it makes a lot of sense not to 'waste' time on those benchmarks, there's a pretty useful place for them. It's called Proof of Concept. At some point some investor is going to want to know if the money is being spent on something worthwhile or just a theory. Putting together a decent benchmark to show off your new computer might result in a lot of funding. Or not.

1 person liked this | Holyscrap said:

SKYNET! It's ALIVEEEE!

*Runs off to buy supplies for his bunker.*

2 people like this | Skidmarksdeluxe Skidmarksdeluxe said:

Ahhh, but can it play Crysis?

Littleczr Littleczr said:

Ahhh, but can it play Crysis?

No. But it will probably render videos for you tube faster.

1 person liked this | spydercanopus spydercanopus said:

The qubits don't just pop out 0's and 1's at the same time. They pop out 0, 1 and everything in between them at the same time. This is great if you need fuzzy logic type stuff, but you're going to get a different answer every time you computer logical numbers like 1 + 1 = 2.

At some point some investor is going to want to know if the money is being spent on something worthwhile or just a theory.

Lockheed Martin has already said it works and they're investing on upgrading their D-Wave. [link]

JC713 JC713 said:

I read an article by MIT that talked about a Lenovo Workstation vs a Quantum computer at computing tasks. The Quantum computer was 1000x faster. It was a quadcore CPU only in the workstation. We need the Quantum computer to go head to head against dual 8 core Xeons to prove the quantum computer superior.

GunsAblazin said:

I read an article by MIT that talked about a Lenovo Workstation vs a Quantum computer at computing tasks. The Quantum computer was 1000x faster. It was a quadcore CPU only in the workstation. We need the Quantum computer to go head to head against dual 8 core Xeons to prove the quantum computer superior.

Hell with 8 core, it needs to go up against Watson or any other supercomputer.

1 person liked this | JC713 JC713 said:

Hell with 8 core, it needs to go up against Watson or any other supercomputer.

True.

2 people like this | Guest said:

I just want one to download porn faster.

JC713 JC713 said:

@guest^, a computers speed doesnt necessarily reflect how fast you download something...

GunsAblazin said:

...but if it could receive more than one bit of information at a time the only bottleneck will be the speed if the Internet connection. Better yet, if internet providers use quantum computing we can have instant downloads of very large files.

yRaz yRaz said:

@guest^, a computers speed doesnt necessarily reflect how fast you download something...

perhaps ISP's using these server side could provide us with more bandwidth for a cheaper price. On top of that, with entanglement in modems the data could be transferred instantly. Just imagine, an end to lag. I'm sure this would also be great for brokerages and day where the speed of light "isn't fast enough."

JC713 JC713 said:

perhaps ISP's using these server side could provide us with more bandwidth for a cheaper price. On top of that, with entanglement in modems the data could be transferred instantly. Just imagine, an end to lag. I'm sure this would also be great for brokerages and day where the speed of light "isn't fast enough."

Hmm. Maybe.

1 person liked this |
Staff
Rick Rick, TechSpot Staff, said:

Ahhh, but can it play Crysis?

It can both run and not run Crysis simultaneously.

spydercanopus spydercanopus said:

I was just getting pissed over a captcha being hard to read when I thought, "I need a quantum computer for this...". They'll be great at deciphering visual object.

It can both run and not run Crysis simultaneously.

That was the best "can it run crysis" comeback ever. *slow clap*

with entanglement in modems the data could be transferred instantly.

And at any distance in real time. You could be on Mars and talk to your kids without a delay.

Do androids dream of electric candles?

Load all comments...

Add New Comment

TechSpot Members
Login or sign up for free,
it takes about 30 seconds.
You may also...
Get complete access to the TechSpot community. Join thousands of technology enthusiasts that contribute and share knowledge in our forum. Get a private inbox, upload your own photo gallery and more.