The first customer for D-Wave’s 2000Q quantum computer is cybersecurity firm Temporal Defense Systems
D-Wave has signed up the first customer for its high-end quantum computer after the technology went on general sale.
Cybersecurity firm Temporal Defense Systems bought the D-Wave 2000Q – the firm’s first 2,000 quantum bit (qubit) quantum computer – and although the price it paid has not been revealed, the computer is valued $15 million.
The system is D-Wave’s follow-up to the 1,000 qubit 2X, released in August 2015.
The jump from 1,000 qubits to 2,000 will allow researchers to grapple with greater quantities of data and more complex problems. According to D-Wave, the quantum 2000Q is capable of outperforming “classical servers” by factors of between 1,000 and 10,000.
While it’s widely agreed D-Wave’s systems are using quantum computing for calculations, it isn’t clear if the technology will ever be able to tackle real-world problems. At present, D-Wave’s systems are only suitable for solving so-called optimisation problems.
The company, based in British Columbia, Canada, was founded in 1999 and is the first in the world to sell quantum computers. The 128 qubit D-Wave One, released in May 2011, was the world’s first commercially available quantum computer. In May 2013 its D-Wave Two 512-qubit system was used for a collaborative research project carried out by Nasa, Google and the Universities Space Research Association.
Then, in December 2015, Google announced that system had outperformed a traditional desktop by 108 times. Or, to put it another way, it was one hundred million times faster. “What a D-Wave does in a second would take a conventional computer 10,000 years to do,” Hartmut Nevan, director of engineering at Google, said at the time.
Conventional computers encode data in binary code, made up of zeros and ones, and known as ‘bits’. A quantum computer uses subatomic particles known as quantum bits, made up of zeroes, ones and a combination of the two known as a ‘superposition’. Where three bits can represent any one of eight values, three qubits can represent all eight values at once. This, in theory, allows quantum computers to run far faster than conventional computers.
In-keeping with D-Wave’s habit of doubling performance every two years, the company could release a 4,000 qubit quantum computer in 2019.