BROOMFIELD, Colo. – Quantum computing remains outside of the traditional landscape when it comes to data centers and software-defined networks, but that gap could be closing.
Speaking during a keynote address at this week’s Glue Conference 2019 event, Murray Thom, vice president of software and cloud services at D-Wave Systems, laid out ways that quantum computing could power the next wave of software innovation. He told the developer-heavy crowd that when combined with a user-friendly software stack, quantum computing could allow those developers to push beyond increasingly complex performance limits.
Thom explained that the main tenant of quantum computing is in driving down the heat generated by traditional computing hardware. D-Wave does this through the use of superconducting materials in the construction of the physical assets and the use of refrigerated rack equipment that keeps the quantum computing chips operating at just above absolute zero.
“We can flow current through the metal without any resistance,” Thom explained.
By reducing the heat generated by the quantum computing chips they can support quibits, which are a two-dimensional version of traditional computing bits that can simultaneously represent “0” and “1” in a computing model. That low resistance also slashes power consumption, which “goes against traditional thinking of chip power usage in a data center,” Thom said.
“Temperature in the system is noise,” Thom said. “We want this to be as low temperature and resistance as possible.”
This also allows for increased server performance that is currently being impacted by a slowing down of Moore’s Law. That observation states that the number of transistors in a dense integrated circuit doubles about every two years.
Thom cited the joke that “the number of people predicting the end of Moore’s Law is doubling every two years.”
This slowdown is also being tackled by others. A handful of companies recently formed the Open Domain-Specific Accelerator (ODSA) workgroup that is developing technology to connect domain-specific accelerator chiplets to other ASICS and programmable chips.
Another important link to the traditional software space is that access to such quantum computing systems are likely to be through cloud connections. This is because of the prohibitive cost of organizations having their own quantum computing systems and having to rely on pooling access through a cloud connection.
D-Wave has also created its Ocean software stack that sits on top of the physical hardware it provides. Thom said this basically allows a developer to use common software models to tap into the quantum computing resources.
The company recently updated one of the processors in its Leap quantum cloud service that reduces environment noise and improves performance. It said that update will come to market by the middle of next year.
D-Wave is not the only firm attempting to tackle the quantum computing conundrum.
IBM earlier this year unveiled its Q System One platform that is designed to bring the technology to scientific and commercial use cases. The company also has its Quantum QISKit software development kit (SDK) that uses the python coding language as a path for developers to tap into the quantum computing platform.
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