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Supercomputing Technology

A Peek Inside D-Wave's Quantum Computing Hardware 55

Posted by Soulskill
from the hamsters-are-neither-alive-nor-dead dept.
JeremyHsu writes: A one-second delay can still seem like an eternity for a quantum computing machine capable of running calculations in mere millionths of a second. That delay represents just one of the challenges D-Wave Systems overcame in building its second-generation quantum computing machine known as D-Wave Two — a system that has been leased to customers such as Google, NASA and Lockheed Martin. D-Wave's rapid-scaling approach to quantum computing has plenty of critics, but the company's experience in building large-scale quantum computing hardware could provide valuable lessons for everyone, regardless of whether the D-Wave machines live up to quantum computing's potential by proving they can outperform classical computers. (D-Wave recently detailed the hardware design changes between its first- and second-generation quantum computing machines in the the June 2014 issue of the journal IEEE Transactions on Applied Superconductivity.)

"We were nervous about going down this path," says Jeremy Hilton, vice president of processor development at D-Wave Systems. "This architecture requires the qubits and the quantum devices to be intermingled with all these big classical objects. The threat you worry about is noise and impact of all this stuff hanging around the qubits. Traditional experiments in quantum computing have qubits in almost perfect isolation. But if you want quantum computing to be scalable, it will have to be immersed in a sea of computing complexity.
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A Peek Inside D-Wave's Quantum Computing Hardware

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  • by NoNonAlphaCharsHere (2201864) on Friday July 11, 2014 @04:20PM (#47434391)
    You can't LOOK at it!
    • by PopeRatzo (965947)

      I don't care if I can look at it. I just want to know if it will run Watch_Dogs on ultra at 60 fps.

  • WoW! (Score:4, Informative)

    by mark_reh (2015546) on Friday July 11, 2014 @05:39PM (#47435033) Journal

    "A one-second delay can still seem like an eternity for a quantum computing machine capable of running calculations in mere millionths of a second."

    Millionths!?!

    Um, last time I looked, most microcontroller chips could make calculations in "mere millionths of a second".

    • Um, last time I looked, most microcontroller chips could make calculations in "mere millionths of a second".

      Yes, but they can't do 2^512 (2 to the 512th power) calculations simultaneously in mere millionths of a second.

      Of course, this would be for an ideal quantum computer with 512 qubits. There's still some confusion about what the D-Wave "is".

      • It doesnt do 2^512 calculations in under a second. Im pretty sure nothing comes close to that, and if it did it would be an actual game changer.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    In a sci-fi world...

    The fact that nobody has been able to measure what the frig is going on with D-Wave's quantum computer is probably a requirement for the thing to work.

    The moment we are all allowed to look under the hood, it'll collapse into some useless state and all that hardware will be rendered no more valuable than your average cat.

  • by Required Snark (1702878) on Friday July 11, 2014 @09:25PM (#47436231)
    I have no strong opinion about the DWave machine. It might be doing quantum computing or it might be doing classical computing. I don't have the correct background to judge, and there is still a lot of controversy among those who do know this stuff. [wikipedia.org]

    However, if you read the article (which I did), they are doing real engineering. They are building very sophisticated superconducting quantum circuits. Their second generation machine has four times the qubits and cycles much more quickly. This is very difficult and advanced work, and they are making it happen.

    So why is DWave getting so much flack on Slashdot? Somehow I doubt it's because there are vast number of quantum physics types just waiting to display their deep knowledge whenever the subject comes up. What I see are Slashdot Pundits: hoards of pseudotechnical wanna-be's who pile on with meaningless criticism. The motivation is not to have a useful debate but to pretend to be smart by talking trash. Maybe they impress each other, but from my vantage point it looks like a lot of eight year olds shouting curse words they don't understand and giggling over how cool they are.

    • by amaurea (2900163)

      There is definitely an unfortunate tendency among slashdotters to be over-cynical towards new technology.

      But in the case of D-Wave I think much of the blame lies with the company itself. In the beginning they acted very suspiciously, refusing to let anybody see the insides of their device, and refusing to cooperate with the scientific community, all the while charging millions for devices that that it was unclear whether did anything interesting. During this uncooperative phase, many scientists publically e

    • Some real work goes into perfecting the taste of snake oil medicine as well ... doesn't make it any less of a fraud.

    • by thegarbz (1787294)

      Because on Slashdot we believe armchair engineers who think they know everything over those people who actually have a clue. Oh expect when it's peer reviewed. Oh and even then the peer review system is broken and the scientist is clearly fraudulent.

      Slashdot is a self sustaining social media platform. Just like real media where alarmist and controversial stories sell papers, alarmist posts seem to attract mod points.

In the sciences, we are now uniquely priviledged to sit side by side with the giants on whose shoulders we stand. -- Gerald Holton

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