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A new type of quantum computer has smashed every record

By mongeese · 30 replies
Dec 16, 2018
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  1. IonQ was founded on a gamble that 'trapped ion quantum' computing could outperform the silicon-based quantum computers that Google and others are building. As of right now, it does. IonQ has constructed a quantum computer that can perform calculations on a 79-qubit array, beating the previous king Google’s efforts by 7 qubits.

    Their error rates are also the best in the business, with their single-qubit error rate at 99.97% while the nearest competitors are around the 99.5 mark, and a two-qubit error rate of 99.3% when most competitors are beneath 95%. But how does it compare to regular computers?

    According to IonQ, in the kinds of workloads that quantum computers are being built for, it’s already overtaking them. The Bernstein-Vazirani Algorithm, a benchmark IonQ is hoping will take off, tests a computer’s ability to determine a single encoded number (called an oracle) when the computer can only ask a single yes/no question.

    When the algorithm is run for every number between 1 and 1023, a conventional computer gets a 0.2% success rate. IonQ’s quantum computer gets a 79% success rate.

    “After two years of work, our against-the-grain bet is paying off,” IonQ’s CEO, Christopher Monroe, believes trapped ion quantum computing is the best bet. “The IonQ System is robust and industrial strength. Even at this early stage, the results show the ion trap design has all the advantages we expected and more.”

    All quantum computers “isolate and manipulate quantum systems to create quantum versions of computer bits, called qubits” reads IonQ’s website. Quantum computers replace the traditional 0 or 1 logic gates processors rely on and replace them with 0 and 1 quantum gates, which are simultaneously 0 and 1 during calculations but output 0 or 1. This funky math has the potential to reinvent computing in fields like chemistry, medicine, energy, logistics and future fields like AI.

    The specific 'trapped ion technology' the IonQ’s quantum computer relies on replaces the supercooled silicon that Google, IBM and Rigetti use with ytterbium, a silvery rare earth metal. The ionized ytterbium is suspended in an oscillating electromagnetic field, where it’s manipulated by engineers who program the lasers that input, store and retrieve information.

    While 'trapped ion' quantum computing still has some hurdles to overcome, namely slow operation times and massive sizes, the accuracy and scalability of the technology means that IonQ will be letting companies use its computer sometime next year. It’s also got a peer-reviewed journal article on the developments that will be published in the coming months.

    Quantum supremacy, the moment that the best quantum computer is better than the best traditional computer, is approaching rapidly. While even IonQ will admit that they don’t know what the “killer app of quantum computers” is yet, it doesn’t seem like it’ll be too long before we're all taking it for granted.

    Permalink to story.

  2. VitalyT

    VitalyT Russ-Puss Posts: 4,415   +2,958

    Yeah? And what exactly does this mean? It has to beat the general-purpose calculation efficiency first of all, and then become accessible and cheap. I doubt this will happen any time soon, so not sure what's your meaning of "better" in this instance.
  3. seeprime

    seeprime TS Guru Posts: 378   +405

    A usable computer that has a suspended ionized field is going to cost millions of dollars for the foreseeable future. I agree with you that we have a long time to wait before quantum computing technology is in use by anyone other than university's, military's, and governments. In the meantime, the rest of use can get by with a smartphone for most activities.
  4. Squid Surprise

    Squid Surprise TS Evangelist Posts: 2,517   +1,516

    Unless all we need is a terminal to access a central quantum-based computer elsewhere - much like many envisioned computing would be like back in the 70s and 80s...
  5. JamesJ

    JamesJ TS Rookie

    Actually, you are wrong in your method of thinking. Quantum computing is NOT a replacement to current PC technology. It is a NEW computing technology.
    Here's the difference.
    A calculator on a standard silicon will ALWAYS beat a quantum computation. Because the calculator can only function with standard equations.
    However, multidimensional equations and functions can be handled in a higher dimension computing device aka a quantum computer.
    But visa versa, a quantum computer can not handle standard equations efficiently because itself is a higher dimensional machine and requires more over head to do lower dimensional work.
    mbrowne5061 likes this.
  6. Bats Dude

    Bats Dude TS Rookie Posts: 24

    I look at the entire quantum tech engineering concept as (NO- I'm NOT a 'liberal') a means to further separate social classes, for one very simple reason: only the extremely wealthy will be able to afford a quantum pc. It's really that simple. They are not going to become cheap nor affordable to the average consumer for an extremely long period of time- if ever, and the rich are incredibly resistant to anyone but the rich getting anything tech wise that would be an infringement on their 'power'. Face it. Computing IS power.
  7. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 11,288   +4,947

    Unless an example is presented where a question was actually answered. And the answer was given consecutively. I'm going to continue assuming, we are beating a dead horse.
    JaredTheDragon likes this.
  8. psycros

    psycros TS Evangelist Posts: 2,670   +2,432

    Its been that way with every sort of power - economic, informational, ect - since forever. The only way that changes is if the machines achieve sentience, develop ethics and morality and then decide that equal access to computing power should be a human right. Of course they might also decide that the only way to guarantee that right is to make everyone an always-connected cyborg.
  9. Pavel Lelyukh

    Pavel Lelyukh TS Rookie

    Yea I totally disagree, with proper economies of scale with could cost less than $10,000 in 30 years. Also isn't like IBM giving people open source access to their quantum computer!
  10. Pavel Lelyukh

    Pavel Lelyukh TS Rookie

    And how would you encode morality without using religion, and potentially instituting a theocracy? Also, Russia was a secular theocracy so please don't claim that secular, atheistic government can't be problematic
  11. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 11,288   +4,947

    Diversity will always be problematic. There will never be a harmonious relationship through diversity.
  12. JaredTheDragon

    JaredTheDragon TS Guru Posts: 570   +379

    These toys are just huge money-pits for investment groups and banksters, just like almost every large project in the fake-science world. CERN, Lie-Go, BICEP-2, etc..

    They aren't even approaching the proper quanta, and the phrase used in this fashion is merely marketing hype and buzz. We will see photonic computing displace current electron-level transistor computing and completely erase all this fake "quantum computing" hype in the next few years, with any luck, but of course the technicians on the current arrays don't even know what charge is, nor electricity nor magnetism. So until they get their stuff together and catch up on modern physics, they are going to keep hitting these barriers.

    Charge is photons, not electrons. It's that simple.
  13. Uncle Al

    Uncle Al TS Evangelist Posts: 5,300   +3,706

    The quantum cell phone ...... bet Apple won't be able to produce that one under $1,000 or $1,000,000 for that matter .... but, it will come in multiple colors with an optional notch and sub-atomic charging device .....
  14. Evernessince

    Evernessince TS Evangelist Posts: 3,913   +3,364

    That will never happen simply due to latency. You are looking at around 72ms of added latency in the absolute best case scenario. That and all the other disadvantages of cloud computing.

    It also doesn't address the cost either. You are going to be paying an arm and a leg to get time with even a shared remote quantum computer.
    seeprime and VitalyT like this.
  15. Bubbajim

    Bubbajim TechSpot Staff Posts: 661   +647

    I shouldn't take the bait.. I shouldn't take the bait.. Oh Ganesh damn it..

    Religion is a cover story for the transmission of morality from generation to generation, but morality obviously comes ahead of religion if you think about it at all. You don't need religion for morality, you do need morality for religion.

    Secondly, what is a secular theocracy? That's an oxymoron. It's like 'irreligious religious society', it doesn't really mean anything. In the next clause of the sentence you call Russia an 'atheistic government' - this would be closer to the truth, but it's still obtuse. Atheism can't inform any system of government, because it's a lack of something, not a proposition for something. In other words, you can have a Christian government, because Christianity makes claims that you can follow, but you can't have an Atheistic government, because there are no claims by 'atheism'; it's a lack of belief in particular claims.

    You can most definitely have ethics or morality encoded into computing systems of the future. One example would be Asimov's laws. They're not perfect, but it's one idea.

    Now, on topic, this trapped ion method looks mental. I love that people come up with things like this. Can this method be used at 'normal' temperatures or does it require super-cooling like other QC attempts? I think room temperature super-conducting will be one of the main hurdles to getting mass production going for technologies like this.
    pit1209 and BrianMontanye like this.
  16. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 14,827   +3,916

    I have this way outside the box belief that traditional religion actually discourages human development of ethics or morality.

    Somebody said that for a society to function, there has to be an unprovable reward and unprovable punishment.

    But quite frankly, a higher human state would require the willingness of individuals to do the right, moral, and ethical things, for no other reward than to feel fulfilled with the inner peace it would provide.

    If you accept the endless dogma that doing good will get you to "heaven", and doing evil will send you to hell, the only thing it provides in the way of character development, is to cause people to remain fearful, selfish children. (And maybe buy the pope a new ermine robe or two).

    If you do good for its own sake, without hope of compensation or punishment, you might theoretically become your own god.

    The time worn platitude goes, "cleanliness is next to godliness". When what we really should be contemplating is, "altruism is godliness".
    Last edited: Dec 17, 2018
  17. fktech

    fktech TS Maniac Posts: 523   +136

    I want one.
  18. Bubbajim

    Bubbajim TechSpot Staff Posts: 661   +647

    Holy crap I agree with Cranky on something. Maybe we really can all get along.
  19. "Quantum computing is progressing in leaps and bounds"
    perhaps even a … quantum leap?
    captaincranky likes this.
  20. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 11,288   +4,947

    I really don't care if that is what you believe or not. You are the one walking that path. You have absolutely no evidence to support the claim either way. That is why it is a belief. At least with religion people are trying to follow an age old book. In your disbelief you are the one running off on a tangent. We have a book and our own experiences. You have nothing except what you want to believe. That is all it boils down to.

    Now tell me what exactly did your atheist sermon have to do with the topic? Nothing! Why could you not leave the word religion alone? Because you are blind! I'm not even what you would call a Bible thumper. You can't post crap about the Bible and not expect a believer to come in and contradict you. That is why religion is usually not allowed. So lets keep it as a local argument.

    And to be clear religion is not a cover story. As much as you would like to disagree. The Bible is an old history book. Just because we do not understand the translation between ancient languages doesn't make it fiction.
  21. Giarc

    Giarc TS Rookie

    A fundamental question is - does the work required to deal with errors increase exponentially with the number of qubits, or is it polynomial?
    That's related to the complexity of the NP complete problems we want to solve.
    There is still the constant factor, and if that is sufficiently smaller than traditional computing, it is indeed revolutionary. But without breaking the NP barrier, it doesn't break the wall, it only moves it further away. Just as traditional comp has already done, but better.
  22. CaptainTom

    CaptainTom TS Maniac Posts: 404   +213

    "While even IonQ will admit that they don’t know what the “killer app of quantum computers” is yet, it doesn’t seem like it’ll be too long before we're all taking it for granted."

    It's hacking passwords and account information... We already know THAT is the killer app. Oh, and I am sure we won't "take it for granted."
  23. Friendly Water

    Friendly Water TS Rookie

    Ouch...I lol'ed. Excellent dad joke.
  24. Friendly Water

    Friendly Water TS Rookie

    The coolest thing about quantum computers is their potential to answer questions instantaneously. So cost ends up not mattering, since someone would conceivably have a computer that could answer the hardest questions possible with no processing time. You'd only need a few of these to answer all the hard questions in the world quickly. Assuming, of course, that the problem can be encoded into something the machine can read and process.
  25. S1lence

    S1lence TS Rookie

    Moore's Law might still be alive. The fact that Quantum computing is in it's infancy and blowing away the old standard speaks volumes. As with the original microprocessor, the creation of it caused the exponential growth we saw with the current architecture until Intel intentionally stunted it's growth because they held all the patents.

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