D-Wave Systems, after some 12 years of research, the accumulation of 60 patents, and the filing of 100 more, has finally released the world's first commercial quantum computer
. The computer, which has been labelled with the wondrously adventurous name "D-Wave One", is outfitted with a 128-qubit (quantum bit) chipset that performs just a single task -- discrete optimization -- and costs $10,000,000 dollars.
[RELATED_ARTICLE]The processor itself, which has the far cooler codename "Rainier," uses a process called quantum annealing to solve very specific problems. Quantum annealing is an exciting new topic which allows the "moulding and warping" of quantum particle energy levels on a scale far greater than any other approach. Quantum annealing enables the creation of integrated circuits -- processors -- that look and operate much like conventional silicon. The 128-qubit Rainier processor is so "conventional" that it can be programmed with the popular Python programming language.
The most exciting bit, though, is that quantum annealing allows scientists and researchers to observe what's actually going on. Historically, the problem with quantum computing is that observing the result is impossible -- to observe a quantum state is to destroy it -- which makes it rather hard to prove that qubits are actually performing as they should. D-Wave has pioneered a process that allows for quick, rapid "snapshotting" of Rainier's current state, which then become the frames of a movie. By watching the result, D-Wave can finally peer inside the quantum black box and begin to see whether quantum computing can deliver mathematically-provable results.
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