Vancouver, Canada-based D-Wave Systems has previewed a new 2000-qubit processor at its first users' conference in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The new processor doubles the number of qubits over the previous generation D-Wave 2X system and can thus tackle larger, more diverse problems and cut processing time. Early tests of the processor and new control features have shown performance gains of up to 1000x compared to last year's D-Wave 2X. D-Wave has already built a quantum computing system based upon the new processor, which it describes as its most advanced ever.
The D-Wave user conference yesterday.
As hinted at in the intro, the new system allows users to tweak and tune the quantum annealing process to suit the individual solution being computed. Quantum annealing is a tool used to solve optimisation (and probabilistic sampling) problems. Optimisation calculations are similar to in an energy minimisation solution in physics – the computer finds the optimal, most efficient solution possible (while considering many factors) by finding the lowest trough on a map of possibilities. Quantum computers can 'tunnel' through the landscape of the chart to find optimal solutions much faster than a binary computer.
D-Wave's growing user base, including the likes of NASA and Google, have helped it design features and capabilities to "provide quantifiable benefits". The new ability to tune the quantum algorithm to improve application performance is a case in point. The latest generation 2000-qubit quantum processor "can enable machine learning applications that we believe are not available on classical systems," asserts D-Wave CEO, Vern Brownell. D-Wave is also working on software tools and on training the first generation of quantum programmers.
Looking back over the D-Wave quantum processor development, it's good to see the doubling of available processor qubits every 2 years or so. The latest 2000-qubit quantum processor from D-Wave makes impressive progress, with its doubling in qubits, if it can indeed work 1,000 times faster than the previous generation D-Wave 2X machine.