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Breakthroughs Achieved in Quantum Computing, Business and Industry Trends Analysis

Quantum computing is a technology that uses the unique abilities of quantum systems to be in multiple states at once.  Such superpositions would allow the computer to perform many different computations simultaneously.  This is a merger of physics (and its laws of quantum mechanics) with computer science.
Quantum computing uses quantum bits, also known as qubits, as the fundamental unit of data.  Qubits differ vastly from data in traditional computing in that they are not binary.  The laws of quantum mechanics are very different from the laws of traditional physics.  A qubit can exist not only in a state corresponding to 0 or 1 as in a binary bit, but also in states corresponding to a blend or “superposition” of these states.  Qubits have the potential to enable the computer to perform calculations at speeds that may not be attained by traditional computers.  Many computer firms are focusing on “quantum supremacy,” or the point at which a quantum computer may be able to perform computations that are too complex to be handled by traditional computers.  Google (owned by Alphabet, Inc.) hopes to have a viable quantum computer by 2029 operating at 1-million qubits.
This technology has immense potential applications in such areas as mathematical modeling, cryptography, genetic research and the management of extremely large databases.  For example, a quantum computer could have enough processing power to open encrypted data, creating vast new global data security issues.  Financial services companies such as HSBC Holdings PLC, Ally Financial, Inc., KPMG and BBVA are considering quantum systems to quickly and more accurately analyze portfolio optimization and pricing.
In 2018, Google reached a quantum computing milestone with its 72-qubit Bristlecone chip.  In late 2018, Google entered into an agreement with NASA to test the Bristlecone chip against the space agency’s Pleiades supercomputer, with a demonstration to take place in 2019.  Google reported a breakthrough in late 2019, in which a quantum computing experiment generated approximately 1 million random strings of numbers in three minutes and 20 seconds, which might take a supercomputer 10,000 years to achieve.
Meanwhile, Berkeley, California-based Rigetti Computing deployed a 128-qubit system in late 2019, which is available through Amazon Braket, a fully managed AWS system.  In addition to the Rigetti machines, Amazon Bracket offers AWS customers cloud access to quantum computers from D-Wave Systems and IonQ.  D-Wave Systems was a pioneer in quantum computing with a superconducting chip called a quantum annealer that addresses optimization problems.  Startup IonQ is taking a different tack, working with atoms trapped by lasers.
IBM announced in early 2020 that it had more than 12,000 users per month for its IBM Q Network, consisting of 15 publicly available quantum computers, in sizes ranging from five to 53 qubits.  Users, who include a range of people from school children to university researchers, access the computers via the cloud.  In late 2022, IBM launched its 433-qubit Osprey chip with triple the number of qubits of its Eagle chip, which had debuted in 2021.
In October 2020, Honeywell International, Inc. released its newest quantum computer which initially offered 10 fully connected qubits and a proven quantum volume of 128.  Commercial users of the computer, called the System Model H1, include Merck and DHL.
Outside the U.S., the EU is making quantum research a top priority, investing $1.2 billion over 10 years starting in 2017.  China is making serious strides in research, launching the first satellite with the ability to transmit quantum data in mid-2017.  The Chinese government is investing $10 billion in a cutting-edge research facility that will include work on quantum computing.  In the U.S., the NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) has been running Post-Quantum Cryptography algorithm competitions in an effort to develop encryption capabilities that can foil quantum computers.
In 2023, IBM and Google announced plans to invest a combined $150 million in quantum computing research at the University of Chicago and the University of Tokyo, in an effort to stay ahead of China.  IBM plans to give $100 million to the two institutions for the development of a quantum-centric supercomputer.  Google’s $50 million will be accompanied by university access to its quantum computer as part of a long-term partnership.

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