The quantum speedup may be closer than we think. According to a new paper lead-authored by researchers at Microsoft's quantum lab, a working quantum device could arrive within the next 10 years. "Recent improvements in control of quantum systems make it seem feasible to finally build a quantum computer within a decade," reads the abstract, published this week in Arxiv. The paper goes on to detail how a combination of quantum algorithms and conventional computing could be employed to analyze electronic structures too large and complex for conventional computing alone.
The paper is particularly notable since some of the researchers have been skeptical of existing quantum architectures like those currently offered by D-Wave at Google's Quantum Lab. Two of the authors of this week's paper also contributed to a paper published last June that studied the D-Wave 2 and found no evidence of a computing advantage over conventional mainframe architectures, although D-Wave has since disputed those conclusions.
But the new paper suggests that quantum computing can still yield benefits in its current, imperfect form. Pairing with conventional architecture could solve many of the problems holding back current quantum computers. Making quantum architecture has become something of an arms race among tech companies, with Microsoft funding significant research through its Station Q group, and Google participating in an AI Lab venture with NASA and D-Wave, as well as a separate team drawn from UC Santa Barbara. Earlier this year, the AI Lab installed one of the first D-Wave 2X computers, which chains together more than 1000 qubits and operates at just 15 millikelvin above absolute zero.
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