Quantum computer hits the shops

After 12 years of research, and millions of dead and alive cats,  D-Wave Systems has released the first commercial quantum computer.

However, the price tag will put it out of the league of many at $10,000,000. After all, cats which are potentially dead and alive don’t come cheap as they are hard to find.

The “D-Wave One” is outfitted with a 128-qubit (quantum bit) chipset however it can only do one thing, which is quantum annealing.

The chip moulds and warps quantum particle energy levels and enables the creation of integrated circuits which look and operate much like conventional silicon. Apparently you can program the 128-qubit Rainier processor with Python.

What makes the processor interesting is that quantum annealing allows scientists and researchers to observe what’s actually going on. This is important with quantum stuff because if you don’t observe it, it destroys itself and turns into jam.

One of the problems with quantum computing is getting the back off the computer so that you can see what the qubits are doing and mop up the jam with toast afterwards.

D-Wave uses a quick, rapid “snapshotting” of Rainier’s current state, which works like the frames of a movie.

It means that boffins can actually see whether quantum computing can deliver mathematically-provable results, such as working out how many zeros one of these babies costs.